Moscow, 13 August 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Russia’s Kremlin on Tuesday said it approved of the “tough actions” taken by police in an effort to suppress rioting during a recent series of pro-opposition demonstrations in the Russian capital.
More than 2,000 people have been detained at protests held every Saturday in central Moscow over the past four weeks, according to official statistics. Human rights groups have said the number of detainees could be at least twice as high.
Saturday’s rally saw the highest turnout to date, with tens of thousands of people attending. Authorities initially permitted the rally, unlike two previous ones, but police rounded up groups of protesters later in the day as they left a sanctioned protest area and marched towards the Kremlin.
“We believe the tough actions of law enforcement officers for stopping the riots was absolutely justified,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told state media.
Putin himself has not publicly commented on the protests.
The wave of protests was prompted by several prominent opposition politicians being controversially rejected from the ballot for city council elections next month.
Police have been accused of taking a heavy-handed approach to detaining people during the demonstrations, including tackling protesters and dragging them into buses.
A woman who was filmed being punched in the stomach by a police officer while being detained on Saturday had to be hospitalized, her lawyer told Russian television station Current Time. Video of the incident has been widely circulated on the internet.