Russia is seriously concerned over recent “aggressive” arrests of demonstrators in Chicago and Montreal and hopes that the U.S. and Canadian authorities will react to public rallies with restraint, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s ombudsman for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said on Monday.
Mass arrests of supporters of the Occupy movement in Chicago and students protesting against the hike in university tuition fees in Montreal took place over the past few days.
“Despite the fact that citizens’ protests were peaceful in most of the cases, especially in the beginning, U.S. and Canadian police officers have used disproportionate force [against protesters],” Dolgov said.
The authorities “have the right to respond adequately to violations of public order and facts that demonstrate clearly the existence of a threat to public security,” he said.
“Meanwhile, we should point out that mass aggressive arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Chicago (where about 50 people have been arrested over a few days) and in Montreal (where 200 people have been arrested), accompanied by the use of so-called acoustic cannons, cannot but cause serious concern,” Dolgov said.
Dolgov’s statement repeated his May 17 criticism of the reaction by U.S. and some EU member states’ authorities to street protests.
The statements appear to come as a response to Western criticism of the Russian government’s handling of recent opposition protests that took place in Moscow and other major cities, triggered by allegations of mass fraud in last December’s parliamentary elections. Some of those protests were peaceful, while others were dispersed by police, and dozens of activists were detained.