Russia has refused to release Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny despite President Joe Biden’s request, Reuters reported.
A court is set to deliberate a potential prison sentence for Navalny as Moscow’s prison service recommended he serve up to three-and-half years for alleged parole violations, which Navalny has said are fabricated, Reuters reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken decried Moscow’s arrest of Navalny and its subsequent crackdown on anti-Kremlin protestors, resulting in more than 5,300 arrests on Sunday, NBC News reported.
“The Russian government makes a big mistake if it believes that this is about us,” Blinken told NBC News. “It’s about them. It’s about the government. It’s about the frustration that the Russian people have with corruption, with autocracy, and I think they need to look inward, not outward.”
“We are not prepared to accept or heed American statements about this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday in response to Blinken’s comments, Reuters reported.
Although Russia’s crackdown on anti-Kremlin protests has been widely criticized by the U.S. and Europe alike, Peskov said “hooligans and provocateurs” acted aggressively towards police during Sunday’s protests, Reuters reported.
“With all due respect, Mr. High Representative, where is your statement on disproportional use of force against protesters in EU member states recently?”, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy tweeted in response to a declamation on widespread arrests made by High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles.
With all due respect, Mr. High Representative, where is your statement on disproportional use of force against protesters in EU member states recently? Austria, France, Netherlands? Police response to their assaults was much more brutal #DoubleStandards #KeepCalmAndBlameRussia https://t.co/BKekIldSsf
— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) February 1, 2021
Police have opened over 40 criminal cases within 18 different regions across Russia over the protests, Pavel Chikov, a lawyer and rights advocate, told Reuters.
Navalny was detained at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport in January upon his return from Germany where he had been recovering from an assassination-by-poisoning attempt, the DCNF reported.
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