Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius says mass detentions in Moscow over the weekend represent a use of "excessive brutal force", and has called for the release of those detained.
Over the weekend, Russian police have detained over a thousand people who took part in a protest against the decisions not to register a number of opposition and independent candidates for the upcoming election to the Moscow City Duma in September.
“It's hard to call it anything else than the use of excessive brutal force against peaceful protesters who have the right to protest, assemble and express their opinion, which is enshrined in the Russian Constitution. But we see there's no reaction,” the minister told BNS on Sunday.
“We demand that human rights be respected and that violence against peaceful protesters not be used and those people be released,” Linkevičius said.
The minister said he was in contact with the lawyer of one detained person, Ilya Yashin, who was not registered as an independent candidate, and the lawyer confirmed that “completely random people who are in that place at that time” were detained.
In his words, the opposition's chances of securing more seats in Moscow City Duma will depend on the public reaction in the Russian capital.
“Intolerance of violence is a democratic expression. How much they manage to change the situation will depend on their own determination and the determination of the government to defend their own positions,” he said.
Russian activists say law enforcement's actions over the weekend were the biggest crackdown on opposition supporters since the wave of anti-Kremlin protests in 2011-2012.