Dmitry Peskov, Putin's official spokesman, commented on Sunday's protests across Russia. He stressed that the protests were illegal, and in response to provocative actions "the police were acting tough and within the law."
During a press call, a Kommersant FM spokesman asked Peskov whether the Kremlin was ready to listen to the protesters and whether the actions of the riot police were unreasonably cruel.
"We are talking about illegal actions. Naturally, the police are taking measures against the participants in these illegal acts, hence the number of detainees (over 5,000 people - ed.). We all saw that there was a fairly large number of hooligans and provocateurs there, that they were showing more or less aggressive behaviour against law-enforcers, which is unacceptable. Therefore, of course, the police act and take necessary measures. Of course, there can be no conversation with hooligans and provocateurs. They should be held accountable for their actions to the full extent of the law," Peskov said.
"One should not need to give a primitive assessment to all the videos that appear, nor should one do the same in relation to the videos displaying measures of influence taken against this or that person, without thinking about what was the reason for taking such harsh measures, and what behaviour that person was showing literally half a minute before that moment," Peskov said commenting on incidents of police violence against protesters, adding that there are many videos that show attacks on riot police, police officers, aggressive manifestations against them, "which is absolutely inadmissible."
Peskov also said that the cruel detentions of human rights defenders and journalists were not widespread, so "any generalizing assessments are hardly appropriate here." At the same time, in response to provocative actions, "the police were acting harshly and within the law."
Earlier, Alexander Shishlov, the human rights ombudsman in St. Petersburg, condemned the tactics that the security forces used during the dispersal of the rallies in support of Alexey Navalny on January 31. He called their actions "a military operation that paralyzed the city center and disrupted the Sunday plans for many residents of St. Petersburg."
"Batons and stun guns will not solve existing problems. Violence can only increases intransigence and gives rise to bitterness. This is a road to bigger problems. It's time to stop," the ombudsman concluded.
According to OVD-Info, January 31, which became the second day of all-Russian actions, marked the largest number of arrests in the modern history of Russia.
Human rights activists published a selection of most flagrant violations that security forces committed during the detention of protesters.