Kremlin accuses US of meddling in affairs, but says ready to talk

WION Web Team
Moscow, Russia Published: Jan 24, 2021, 05.22 PM(IST)

Putin and Biden Photograph:( WION )

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Russia police on Saturday detained over 3,300 protesters, including Navalny's wife, according to protest monitor OVD Info, as tens of thousands took to the streets to denounce President Vladimir Putin's rule. His wife was later released.

Russia is ready to set up a dialogue with the new US Biden administration in which differences are expected to be aired, a Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday.

He added that President Vladimir Putin would respond in kind to US willingness to talk.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have been at their lowest since the end of the Cold War, with the two sides at odds over Russia's role in Ukraine and allegations of its meddling in US elections, which it denies, among other issues.

"Of course, we count on success in setting up a dialogue," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying on TV by Interfax news agency.

"This will be the dialogue where, of course, differences will have to be stated to a greater extent, points of differences. But at the same time, a dialogue is a possibility to find some rational kernels, the little parts where our relations are getting closer," he said.

"And if the current US administration is ready for such an approach, I have no doubts that our president will respond in kind."

In the same interaction, Peskov accused the US embassy of interfering in Russia's domestic affairs after the mission distributed a "demonstration alert" to American citizens in the country recommending they avoid protests. These protests were held in support of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

OVD Info, which monitors opposition rallies, said on Sunday that police seized at least 3,324 demonstrators across dozens of cities, with 1,320 people detained in Moscow and 490 in the second city Saint Petersburg.

"Of course, these publications are inappropriate," Peskov said, adding, "and of course indirectly, they are absolutely an interference in our domestic affairs."

Peskov accused the US embassy of "indirectly" supporting the violation of Russian legislation and backing "unauthorised protests". He said that if the Russian embassy in the United Sates issued similar information "this would cause a certain feeling of discomfort in Washington".

A US mission spokeswoman earlier Sunday said US embassies and consulates around the world routinely issue safety messages to US citizens.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, earlier on Saturday, accused the US embassy in Moscow of publishing routes of planned demonstrations, and demanded an explanation from American diplomats.

Also read | Russia accuses US diplomats of publishing Navalny rally routes

Russia police on Saturday detained over 3,300 protesters, including Navalny's wife, according to protest monitor OVD Info, as tens of thousands took to the streets to denounce President Vladimir Putin's rule. His wife was later released.

On Saturday, the US embassy in Moscow also said it was following the rallies, adding that Washington supported "the right of all people to peaceful protest, freedom of expression".

"Steps being taken by Russian authorities are suppressing those rights," embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross said on Twitter.

Police also detained Lyubov Sobol, a close ally of Navalny's, at the rally.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in St Petersburg said in a statement late Saturday that they were probing violations during demonstrations -- including "on the part of law enforcement" and the use of force against an unidentified woman.

Also read | Violence by Russian police under scanner after arrest of 3,300 protesters

Putin was one of the last global leaders to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory in the US presidential election after the November 3 vote.

(with inputs from agencies)

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