WASHINGTON: The US has condemned the arrest of hundreds of peaceful Russian protesters, including top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, in Moscow, describing it as an "affront" to core democratic values.
"The United States strongly condemns the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters throughout Russia on Sunday," State Department's Acting Spokesman Mark Toner, said.
"Detaining peaceful protesters, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to core democratic values. We were troubled to hear of the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny upon arrival at the demonstration, as well as the police raids on the anti-corruption organisation he heads," the State Department wrote in a tweet.
The statement of the State Department was retweeted by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement said, "strongly condemn the arrest of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators" in Moscow and across Russia.
"This crackdown is another indication that the space for civil society is rapidly closing inside Putin's Russia. It is not surprising that the Russian government's blatant corruption and culture of impunity have caused such a widespread and loud reaction from Russian citizens nationwide," he said.
Cardin said the Russians are the genesis and ultimate guarantors of genuine democratic change in their country.
Accountable and responsive governance in Russia will be the result of their courageous efforts, not anyone else's.
"But the Trump administration should not make their jobs harder," Cardin said and urged the Trump administration to maintain the US' commitment to universally recognised human rights and the democratic principles as laid out in the Helsinki Final Act.
"Any future dialogue with the Russian government should not diminish the importance of these essential American values," he said.
"Today's protest shows that corruption, propaganda, and thinly veiled oppression are a weak foundation for a government - even one led by a man as ruthless as Vladimir Putin," said Senator Tom Cotton in a separate statement.
Thousands of Russians defied bans yesterday to stage protests across the country against corruption. Navalny had called for the marches after publishing a detailed report this month accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of controlling a property empire through a shadowy network of nonprofit organisations.