Daily US Times: Thousands of people took to the streets on Sunday across Russia’s vast expanse, chanting slogans against President Vladimir Putin and demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of Putin, keeping up the nationwide protests that have rattled the Kremlin. According to a monitoring group, Russia arrests more than 3,000 people so far.
Russian authorities mounted a massive effort to stem the tide of protesters after tens of thousands rallied across the country last weekend in the largest and most widespread show of discontent that the country has seen in years. Yet despite threats of arrests, tight police cordons and warnings to social media groups, the protests again engulfed many cities on Sunday.
The 44-year-old Navalny, an anti-corruption investigator who is Russian president’s best-known critic, was arrested on January 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poison attack that he blames on the Kremlin.
Kremlin has rejected the accusations. Mr Navalny was arrested for allegedly violating his parole conditions by not reporting for meetings with law enforcement when he was recuperating in Germany.
The US urged Russia to release Navalny and criticized the crackdown on protests.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter: “The US condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight.”
The Foreign Ministry of Russia rejected Blinken’s call as a “crude interference in Russia’s internal affairs” and accused the US of trying to destabilize the situation in the country by backing the protests.
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