Washington [US], February 1 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the "harsh tactics" deployed "against peaceful protesters and journalists" during recent protests in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin's government on Sunday.
In a tweet, Blinken added that Washington renews its call for Moscow to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Putin critic and Opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
"The U.S. condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight,"he wrote.
"We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Aleksey (Alexey) Navalny," he added.
The Hill reported that Navalny is a top critic of Putin's who doctors said was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok last year. He was arrested this month upon his return to Russia following his recovery in a German hospital.
It was further reported that the Kremlin critic has remained in detention since then with courts finding that he violated the terms of his 2014 conviction for embezzlement, a conviction disputed as politically motivated by the European Court of Human Rights.
The Opposition leader's case was one of several "matters of concern" touched upon during President Biden's first call with Putin earlier this month, according to White House officials.
"President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward," the White House said in a statement following the call.
According to Sputnik, the US Embassy in Russia on Sunday called on Moscow to comply with its international human rights commitments as the authorities continue to detain participants in unauthorized protests in support of opposition activist Alexey Navalny.
Earlier this week, the Russian foreign ministry, commenting on Western statements on the situation around Alexey Navalny and unauthorized rallies, invited Western partners to respect international law, focus on solving their own problems and cooperate with Russia.
"Ahead of planned protests in support of @Navalny, Russian authorities preemptively detained activists & journalists, & blocked off Moscow city center. Reports of hundreds of protesters detained today in Russia. Russia must respect international #humanrights commitments," Rebecca Ross, the embassy's spokeswoman, wrote on Twitter.
The diplomat also called on Moscow to respect international human rights and freedom of the press, commenting on multiple reports that "journalists in press vests being detained while clearly reporting on the protests."
Last weekend, many Russian cities, including St. Petersburg, were also hit by protests in support of Navalny, who was detained in Moscow, Sputnik reported further.
On Sunday, the protests continued and resulted in mass detentions of its participants, as the rallies turned violent. (ANI)