the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Strategy 31 Protests in Russia

The United States is concerned by reports of the detention on March 31 of many Russian citizens who were participating in peaceful rallies throughout Russia to demonstrate their support for Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees Russian citizens the right to peaceful assembly. The United States reiterates the importance of embracing and protecting universal values, including freedoms of expression and assembly, enshrined in the Russian Constitution as well as in international agreements Russia has signed. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are not only vital ingredients of sound political systems, they are essential for economic modernization and broad-based prosperity. Without freedom of assembly, it will be impossible to foster genuine competition during Russia’s upcoming parliamentary elections in December.