France "condemns the arrests" of opposition demonstrators Saturday in Moscow and "the obviously excessive use of the force that surrounded them," said Sunday the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Call for the release of opponents
In a statement, a spokesman for the ministry said Paris "reiterates its commitment to freedom of expression in all its components, including that of demonstrating peacefully and participating in free and transparent elections."
Paris "calls on Russia to release detainees without delay in recent days and to comply with the commitments it has made as a member of the OSCE and the Council of Europe", adds the text. "These topics are an integral part of our demanding political dialogue with Russia".
The ministry describes as "peaceful demonstrations" the demonstrations that were held Saturday in the Russian capital and in other cities of the country.
Wave of repression in Russia
According to the Russian NGO OVD-Info, which specializes in monitoring arrests, and the police, 828 people were arrested Saturday in the Russian capital during this unauthorized protest demanding the opening of the local elections in Moscow on September 8 to opposition candidates. The arrests followed another protest action last weekend, which resulted in nearly 1,400 arrests.
Earlier in the day, the German government declared that Russia had "violated" its "international obligations" for "free and fair elections", after the arrest of more than 800 people during these demonstrations. The Russian authorities have also increased their pressure on the opposition by launching a "money laundering" investigation against opponent Alexei Navalny's organization, the Anti-Corruption Fund. Alexei Navalny is currently serving a 30-day prison sentence. The last remaining opponent, Lioubov Sobol, a 31-year-old lawyer, was arrested on Saturday a few minutes before the start of the protest.