Statement from National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Events Surrounding "Strategy 31" Protests

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The United States is troubled by reports of that dozens of people were detained in Moscow and other cities around Russia in connection with “Strategy 31” demonstrations.  Authorities arrested citizens seeking to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and some who were not even participating in the demonstration.  We are troubled by reports that those detained were mistreated, including accusations of beatings of protestors by police.  The United States is also concerned by the raid and criminal investigation launched over the weekend against the organizers and activists of the Strategy 31 campaign, which conducts peaceful rallies in support of the right to free assembly.  These steps amount to intimidation of those who choose to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens, enshrined in the Russian constitution and in its international commitments.  Current actions run counter to President Medvedev’s recent comments about the need to widen the political space, and threaten those championing the aspirations that are common to all people.  We urge the Russian government to act to safeguard the fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly for all citizens.