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Iran Press TV

Most pro-Navalny protesters in Russia 'hooligans, provocateurs': Kremlin spokesman

Iran Press TV

Monday, 01 February 2021 3:36 PM

Moscow has described as "hooligans and provocateurs" a large number of people who took to the streets in the Russian capital and dozens of other cities across the country on Sunday demanding the release of Western-backed opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments on a conference call on Monday, stressing that dialog with such so-called protesters would be impossible.

"There can be no conversation with hooligans and provocateurs, the law should be applied with the utmost severity," Peskov said.

Navalny, 45, was taken ill on a domestic flight on August 20, 2020. He was later transported to a German capital, where he was hospitalized with alleged poisoning. His aides, as well as the German government and some Western countries, had already claimed he had been "poisoned" before the domestic Russian flight, blaming Moscow.

Moscow has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying the West is exploiting the case for political reasons and using it as a pretext to impose more sanctions against Russia.

Upon returning to Russia on January 17, Navalny was detained and a court hearing in Khimki police station near Moscow demanded he is remanded in custody, meaning that he will be detained for 30 days from the day of his arrest awaiting trial.

Since his detention, Navalny has called on Russians to fill the streets across the country against the government of President Vladimir Putin. The call has drawn tens of thousands of people to the streets in Russia, demanding his release.

Russian prosecutors seek jail term for Navalny

Separately on Monday, Russia's General Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that it would support an effort to imprison Navalny for up to three and a half years at a court hearing on Tuesday, changing the suspended sentence to jail time.

"This motion is considered lawful and justified," the statement said.

On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Washington to end its "gross interference" in Russia's domestic affairs after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russian authorities of using "harsh tactics" against pro-Navalny protesters.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, Peskov said that the Kremlin would not heed US complaints about Navalny's case. He also stressed that Moscow would ignore Blinken's comments, warning against Washington imposing any new sanctions.

"...We are not prepared to accept or heed American statements about this," Peskov said.

Navalny is accused of breaking the terms of his probation, following a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence he received in 2014. That conviction relates to a fraud case involving the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher, which he claims was politically motivated.

Police have described all protests as unauthorized while an investigation is underway into violence committed by both protesters and law enforcement. Thousands of protesters have reportedly been arrested so far.

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