WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States condemned on Sunday the arrest of Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov during protests in Moscow and chided the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin for stifling dissent.
“The United States is concerned by the aggressive tactics used by Russian authorities against opposition protesters yesterday in Moscow,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
“We are troubled that Garry Kasparov and other leaders of the opposition have been arrested and detained. We call for them to be given proper access to legal counsel and fair treatment in processing,” he said in a statement.
The former world chess champion and leader of the Other Russia opposition party was arrested in Moscow on Saturday when police broke up a march of about 3,000 protesters.
The crackdown continued on Sunday in St Petersburg, where police beat opposition activists during anti-Putin rallies and detained nearly 200, according to a Reuters correspondent at the scene.
Putin’s opponents accuse the Kremlin chief of squelching the freedoms won after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and of creating what they say is an unstable political system dependent on Putin alone.
Kremlin officials say the opposition marches are aimed at attracting attention in the West and that the activists are a mixed bag of marginal politicians with little public support.