Unauthorized opposition protest was provocation, rally organizers lied to activists – Kremlin
“In fact what we saw yesterday in some places, particularly in Moscow, was provocation and lies, because those who claimed on the previous day in pseudoacademic language that the event was lawful and in no way violated the law – they were telling blatant lies,” Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.
“The Kremlin respects the civil position of the people and their right to express this position… But we cannot respect those who deliberately misguide people, those who did it yesterday and the day before yesterday, provoking them into illegal activities,” he said.
“We cannot respect those who deliberately misguided minors, children in fact, by agitating them, promising certain rewards for taking part in an unsanctioned event, exposing them to harm,” he added.
Peskov also rejected calls by foreign countries and organizations, particularly the US and the Council of Europe, to release protesters detained on Sunday. The spokesman said that Russia’s international commitments “do not transfer into an obligation to violate its own law.”
On Sunday, a series of opposition rallies were held across Russia to protest the alleged corruption of PM Medvedev, which had been reported weeks earlier by opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. Many of the protests were in violation of Russian regulations on public gatherings, which require organizers to receive permission from the authorities to avoid schedule conflicts and overcrowding.
The event in central Moscow was one of the unsanctioned rallies. The mayor’s office suggested two alternative sites for the protest, but organizers rejected them and called on their supporters to come to the original location, despite the ban. Police detained some 500 people during the protest, which involved some 8,000 people, according to police estimates.
“I went as was my right. There was nothing unsanctioned about it. The people were calmly going down Tverskaya Street [in central Moscow], and I was detained for some reason. I did not break any law,” he argued during the proceedings.
The handling of the rally has been criticized by some foreign nations and organizations. The EU claimed that the Russian police “prevented the exercise of basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which are fundamental rights enshrined in the Russian constitution.”
“When the same sort of events leads to different reactions, one can only think about double standards,” he said. “I don’t recall anyone publicly expressing outrage over the decisions that were taken not long ago in Austria, the Netherlands, [and] Germany, where the authorities decided to ban certain rallies.”
He was referring to the bans imposed in several European cities on rallies sponsored by the Turkish government. Ankara was angered by obstructions to its campaigning for a referendum which would add further powers to the office of the Turkish president.