During the Saturday protests in Russia.
Gavriil Grigorov / TASS / Sipa USA / SIPA
The Kremlin this Sunday accused the United States of "interference" in Russian internal affairs, while minimizing the scope of the demonstrations in support of the jailed opponent Alexeï Navalny, which brought together tens of thousands of people the day before. across Russia.
Almost 3,500 protesters in total were arrested during the rallies which took place on Saturday in dozens of Russian cities, from Moscow to Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East - a scale unprecedented in recent years -, according to the NGO OVD-Info, specialized in monitoring protest demonstrations.
Tens of thousands of people across Russia chanting “Navalny, we're with you!
"," Freedom for political prisoners!
Took to the streets at the call of this sworn enemy of the Kremlin and slayer of corruption to demand his release.
These unauthorized demonstrations resulted in arrests, sometimes brutal, and clashes between protesters and police.
The Kremlin minimizes
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, for his part, downplayed the scope of the protests.
"Few people have come out, many people vote for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin", re-elected with more than 76% of the vote in 2018, he stressed, denouncing an attempt to "shake the situation" in the country.
He thus criticized the American diplomatic representation which had called on its site the Americans not to go to these gatherings on Saturday, while specifying the places where they took place.
A gesture, already interpreted by Russian diplomacy as an attempt to promote a "march against the Kremlin", which Dimitri Peskov described this Sunday as "absolute interference in our internal affairs".
According to a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Moscow, such warnings are being issued to US citizens in all countries around the world.
“It's a routine practice,” she said.
Le Drian denounces an "authoritarian drift"
The United States had "strongly condemned the use of brutal methods against demonstrators and journalists" during the demonstrations on Saturday.
The European Union also condemned the crackdown on protests in Russia, as Amnesty International accused police of "indiscriminately beating and arbitrarily arresting" protesters.
The head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday that the wave of arrests the day before in Russia constituted an “authoritarian drift” and an “unbearable” attack on the rule of law.
Placed in pre-trial detention and targeted by several legal proceedings, Alexeï Navalny, 44, was arrested on January 17, upon his return from Germany, after five months of convalescence following an alleged poisoning of which he accuses the Kremlin.
His call to protest was accompanied by a video investigation, viewed more than 70 million times since Tuesday on YouTube, in which he accuses Vladimir Putin of having had a sumptuous private residence built on the banks of the river for a billion euros. the black Sea.
Authorities dismiss all charges of poisoning and corruption.
By the Web
The American Embassy lists pro-Navalny gathering places on its website, Moscow denounces "interference"
Over a thousand arrests across Russia at pro-Navalny protests, clashes in Moscow