Feb 1, 2021 - World

Secretary of State Tony Blinken “deeply disturbed" by crackdown on Russian protesters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stands in front of a world map.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department, Washington, DC, on January 27, 2021. Photo: Carlos Barria/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the weekend protests and arrests in Russia are about "the frustration that the Russian people have with corruption, with autocracy," in an interview that aired Monday on NBC.

What he's saying: “We are deeply disturbed by this violent crackdown against people exercising their rights to protest peacefully against their government, rights that are guaranteed to them in the Russian constitution."

Driving the news: More than 5,000 people were arrested at protests throughout Russia over the weekend. Among those arrested was opposition leader Alexei Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya. The unrest was triggered by Navalny's arrest on Jan. 17 as he returned to Russia from treatment in a German hospital for poisoning.

The big picture: Blinken added that the State Department is reviewing a number of recent actions by the Russian government, including:

The bottom line: "Depending on the findings of those reviews, we will take steps to stand up for our interests and stand against Russian aggressive actions… The president could not have been clearer in his conversation with President Putin,” Blinken said.

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