Russian Federation jails journalist Sergei Smirnov over Alexei Navalny protest

Russian Federation jails journalist Sergei Smirnov over Alexei Navalny protest”

It came as Navalny, in a note from jail, urged Russians on Thursday to "free" the country from a "bunch of thieves", while the Kremlin cast the arrests of thousands of protesters as a due response to the unsanctioned rallies.

The bloc's top diplomat has come under fire for his visit to Moscow, with several European Union lawmakers calling for the cancellation of his visit over the arrest of the Kremlin critic, Navalny and the violent police crackdown on protesters demanding his release.

He was then jailed for three-and-a-half years for what prosecutors said was a violation of the terms of a suspended sentence for fraud in 2014.

Asked to comment on Mr Navalny's speech, which was shared widely on Russian social media platforms, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was not up to him to determine Mr Putin's place in history.

"The situation wasn't provoked by law enforcement, it was provoked by participants in unsanctioned actions", Mr. Peskov said in a call with reporters. Last week, a Moscow court put his brother, Oleg, top associate Lyubov Sobol, and several other key allies under house arrest - without access to the Internet - for two months as part of a criminal probe into alleged violations of coronavirus restrictions during protests.

Police brutally beat scores of peaceful protesters and used Tasers against some in a show of force apparently meant to intimidate the opposition. "He should be released immediately and without condition".

"Even as we work with Russian Federation to advance U.S. interests, we will co-ordinate closely with our allies and partners to hold Russian Federation accountable for failing to uphold the rights of its citizens", he said.

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"With regards to the Navalny affair, I condemn with the greatest firmness from start to finish what has happened" Mr Macron said on Friday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated the German leader's call for Mr Navalny's immediate release on Wednesday and an end to the police crackdown against anti-government protesters.

"The European Court of Human Rights has already determined, in a 2017 judgement, that the conviction on which this sentence is based was arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable".

Lavrov told his new counterpart it was necessary to respect Russia's legislation and judicial system, according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

He accused the West of "double standards", defending the Russian police response to protests as much milder than some police action against demonstrators in Western countries.

The decision to jail Navalny sparked protests in which more than 1,400 people were detained, primarily in Moscow, according to the OVD-Info monitoring group.

In a no-holds-barred response to the protest, police arrested over 10,000 protest participants across Russian Federation and beat scores, according to arrest-monitoring group OVD-Info.

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