Moscow, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- The Kremlin on Monday defended the actions of Russian police during peaceful protests a day early in over 140 cities across the country that led to the arrests of over 5,400 people.
Moscow says the detentions were justified as none of the protests were legally authorized.
“The police act in a tough manner in accordance with the law in response to provocative actions,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said, according to the state-run Tass news agency.
“We see a rather large number of hooligans and provocateurs with a more or less aggressive behavior against members of law enforcement, which is unacceptable,” he added.
“Of course, there can be no discussion with detected provocateurs. They must face the brunt of the law.”
Sunday’s large demonstrations saw thousands of people defy the Kremlin and take to the streets in support of Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader who was allegedly poisoned by Russian secret agents last year, for the second week in a row.
He was detained immediately after he returned to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from the alleged poisoning.
Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was among those who were arrested, was found guilty on Monday of “taking part in an unauthorized meeting” and fined 20,000 rubles ($265). Her lawyer said she will appeal the sentence.
The crackdown on the protesters, which also reportedly led to the arrests of 82 journalists, has been widely condemned by the international community, including the EU and US. The Kremlin has denied that reporters were arrested. EFE-EPA