EU urges Russia to uphold right to protest
(BRUSSELS) - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Russia on Friday to uphold the right to protest after leading opposition activists were arrested in Moscow this week.
Ashton "is concerned about the arrests of opposition leaders in Moscow and the 15-day prison sentence imposed on some of them" on Wednesday, her spokesman said in a statement.
"The freedoms of expression and of assembly, and participation in peaceful demonstrations, are fundamental rights in democratic states and are indeed enshrined in the Russian Constitution," the statement said.
"The High Representative calls on Russia to respect these rights, also in light of Russia's international commitments taken as a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE."
Two leading activists, Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, said they were sentenced to 15 days each in jail after they were arrested along with dozens of others at an unsanctioned gathering in a small park near Red Square.
They were arrested shortly before a Victory Day parade, which commemorates Russia's 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, which was watched by newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin.
Russian authorities also made a number of other arrests this week of protesters demonstrating against Putin's historic third term as Russian president.
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