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Detention of Peaceful Protestors in Russia

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center, and his wife Yulia talk before a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, on June 12, 2017.

Opposition leader Alexey Navalny was one of 1500 demonstrators arrested by authorities, who claimed the protests were unlawful.

Detention of Peaceful Protestors in Russia
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The United States strongly condemns the detention of peaceful protestors in Russia.

On June 12, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Russia protesting official corruption and calling for democratic governance. The protest was organized by opposition leader Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who reportedly intends to run against Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential election next year.

Mr. Navalny himself was one of about 1500 demonstrators arrested by authorities, who claimed the protests were unlawful. At a midnight hearing, he was sentenced to thirty days in prison.

In strongly condemning the arrests, White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer said, “Detaining peaceful protestors, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to core democratic values. The United States will monitor the situation and we call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protestors.”

This is the second time mass anti-corruption demonstrations occurred in Russia in the last three months. In March, in scores of Russian cities, anti-corruption demonstrators, many of them young adults, protested the wealth reportedly amassed by Russian officials. Close to a thousand protestors were arrested at that time, including Mr. Navalny, who had called for the public demonstrations. The United States condemned the detention of peaceful protestors by Russian authorities at that time as well.

In both instances, the United States has made clear, as Mr. Spicer said after the most recent demonstrations, that “[t]he Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law, and the ability to exercise their rights without fear or retribution.”