Kremlin defends crackdown on Navalny supporters

WION Web Team
Moscow, Russia Published: Feb 03, 2021, 06:07 PM(IST)

Crackdown by Russia police Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Tuesday's verdict spurred Navalny's supporters to take to the streets of the capital Moscow where riot police used batons to disperse the protesters who were detained en masse.

The Kremlin on Wednesday defended its crackdown on protesters demanding the release of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who was handed a prison term of almost three years on Tuesday.

Navalny's allies have, however, vowed to continue putting pressure on the authorities even as protest monitors said that more than 10,000 people have been detained at recent nationwide rallies in support of President Vladimir Putin's loudest critic.

Tuesday's verdict spurred Navalny's supporters to take to the streets of the capital Moscow where riot police used batons to disperse the protesters who were detained en masse.

"The holding of unauthorised rallies raises concerns and justifies the tough actions of the police," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday.

Mass protests in more than one hundred cities across Russia were sparked by Navalny's arrest in a Moscow airport last month on arrival from Germany where he was recovering after being poisoned in August. The 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner was given a jail term of two years and eight months for violating the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence on embezzlement charges he claims were a pretext to silence him.

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In its most recent investigation, Navalny's team accused Putin of being gifted an opulent palace on the Black Sea coast in a video that garnered more than 100 million views on YouTube.

The report was seen as a rallying cry that spurred tens of thousands of demonstrators onto the street on consecutive weekends last month, with protester chants and signs referencing the investigation. 

Meanwhile, Navalny's arrest and the violent police crackdown on protesters have been met with condemnation by international rights groups and Western governments, including the United States, Britain and France.

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(with inputs from agencies)

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