WASHINGTON, May 9 (RIA Novosti) – The United States hopes that the process of democratization will continue in Russia and that the rights of Russian citizens will be respected, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Protests against what they call stolen vote in the parliamentary and presidential elections of December and March resumed on Sunday in central Moscow.
“Certainly from the TV coverage I have seen the extent of the demonstrations. And I think it goes to the hope that all Russians have and that everyone who cares about Russia has that with the new term that President Putin is about to begin, Russia will be able to continue democratizing, protecting and respecting the rights of all Russian citizens, ensuring that there is a level playing field for political and economic participation,” the U.S. top diplomat said in an interview with CNN.
“I think that for those of us watching from afar on television who have such great respect for Russia, as I know you do, having lived there and studied and really become quite knowledgeable about Russia, we want Russia to fulfill its own potential. And that, of course, means giving people the chance to express themselves,” she went on.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner, in his turn, called on protestors and police to avoid violence and said the Russian authorities should respect the citizens’ rights for freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.
“We are troubled by reports of violence in Moscow during the protests on May 6th and by the arrests that have been carried out over the last three days. We are disturbed by images of police mistreatment of peaceful protestors both during the protests and after detentions,” he said.
He, however, said he did not think that the rallies in Moscow bode ill for the beginning of President Putin’s third term.
Over 400 people were arrested and scores injured as Sunday’s rally against Vladimir Putin’s rule turned violent when protesters briefly broke through police lines in a bid to take their protest to the Kremlin walls. Putin’s opponents accuse him of corruption and curtailing political freedoms.
Detentions continued on Tuesday with about 200 people held during an unsanctioned peaceful protest against Vladimir Putin’s return to presidency near the downtown Kitai-Gorod metro station, which anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny labeled an “ongoing day-and-night folk festivity.’