The Kremlin on Sunday accused the United States of interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs and downplayed the scale of the weekend’s protests, when tens of thousands rallied in support of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
More than 3,500 demonstrators were detained in protests across the country on Saturday, with several injured in clashes with police in Moscow, following Navalny’s call to rally against President Vladimir Putin’s 20-year rule.
The West has widely condemned the “harsh tactics” used against demonstrators, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying Sunday the mass arrest of protesters was “an intolerable affront” and a “slide towards authoritarianism”.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the bloc would discuss “next steps” on Monday.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday accused the US embassy of interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs after the mission distributed a “demonstration alert” to US citizens in Russia recommending they avoid protests.
“Of course, these publications are inappropriate,” Peskov told a state TV channel. “And of course indirectly, they are absolutely an interference in our domestic affairs.”