Secretary of State Tony Blinken “deeply disturbed" by crackdown on Russian protesters
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 apparent use of a chemical weapon against Navalny
- Interference in U.S. elections
- The use of cyber-tools in the so-called SolarWinds attack
- The reported bounties on American troops in Afghanistan
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.