The United States has strongly condemned Russia’s use of harsh tactics against protesters and journalists demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The US State Department called on Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights and for the immediate and unconditional release of Navalny. “We urge Russia to fully cooperate with the international community’s investigation into the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement amidst widespread protests across Russia.
Prior to today’s events, the Russian government sought to suppress the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression by harassing protest organizers, threatening social media platforms, and preemptively arresting potential participants, he said. This follows years of tightening restrictions and repressive actions against civil society, independent media, and the political opposition, he added. Continued efforts to suppress Russians’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, the arrest of Navalny, and the crackdown on protesters that followed are troubling indications of further restrictions on civil society and fundamental freedoms, Price said.
Russians’ rights to peaceful assembly and to participate in free and fair elections are enshrined not only in the country’s constitution, but also in Russia’s OSCE commitments, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, he said. The US will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its allies and partners in defense of human rights whether in Russia or wherever they come under threat, Price said.
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