Sen. Sasse: US Must Condemn Russia Protest Arrests

Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who has announced plans to run for president in a 2018 election, was among hundreds arrested in Moscow during one of the country's biggest unauthorized rallies in recent years.

A Moscow district court ordered Navalny, 40, to serve 15 days in jail after finding him guilty of disobeying police orders.

"The authorities are being accused of multi-million theft, but they remain silent", a haggard-looking Navalny said in court, insisting the protests were legal. Others brought rubber ducks and sneakers to the rally, alluding to key allegations contained in Navalny's March 2 report on alleged massive corruption by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The Russian Interior Ministry stated that most of those detained on Moscow had already been released, with only those held over with administrative offenses still left behind.

Guardian correspondent Alec Luhn was among those arrested, despite having Russian journalistic accreditation.

Sasse, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement earlier Sunday saying Putin's "thugocracy is on full display" and that US leaders are expected to call out those who "trample the basic human rights".

The Kremlin has dismissed the opposition as Westernised urban elite disconnected from the issues faced by the poor in Russia's far-flung regions, but Sunday's protests included demonstrations in the areas which typically produce a high vote for President Vladimir Putin, from Siberia's Chita to Dagestan's Makhachkala. About 120 remained in custody overnight.

Organizers' claims to activists that Sunday's rallies in Moscow and at some other locations were sanctioned were "false and provocative", the Kremlin spokesman says, following a thousands-strong opposition rally in the center of the Russian capital.

In Nizhny Novgorod, parents of five children who took part in the protests were charged with "improper parenting", according to Interfax news agency.

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The United States condemned the arrests as an affront to democracy.

On Monday, the European Union appealed to Russian authorities to release those still being held.

It also called on Russian Federation "to abide fully by its worldwide commitments to uphold those rights and to release without delay the peaceful demonstrators that have been detained".

"We can't agree with these calls", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call, saying the police had been professional and properly enforced Russian law.

Authorities have struggled to deal with Navalny's threat.

"The Kremlin sees us as their enemy, but what should I do?" he said Thursday in his Moscow headquarters. Although he has declared his intention to stand for president next year, it is unlikely he will be allowed on to the ballot. St Petersburg was one of a reported 99 cities planning protests according to Navalny, although most had not been given permission to go ahead. The protests were led by the anti-corruption foundation of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. "The protest is a first push for people to start acting".

There were no figures available for the ages of protesters on March 26, but the youthfulness of the crowd on the streets was widely noted by newspapers with headlines like "Youth Calls", "New Wave", and "School Years Of Protest".

The clip attracted more than 11 million views on the social media website.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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