The United States on Saturday called on Russian authorities to release protesters and journalists detained across Russia at demonstrations supporting detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and condemned what it called "harsh tactics" used against them.
"We call on Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, calling for Navalny's "unconditional" release.
Navalny being taken into custody and the arrests of his supporters were "troubling indications of further restrictions on civil society and fundamental freedoms," he added.
"We urge Russia to fully cooperate with the international community's investigation into the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil."
In Russia tens of thousands nationwide answered Navalny's call to rally, which he issued after he was detained at a Moscow airport on arrival from Germany, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal poisoning with a nerve agent.
Saturday's protests took on an unprecedented geographic scale, spanning more than 100 cities across the country. Previous large-scale opposition demonstrations in 2012 and 2019 were largely centered in Moscow.