Latvia speaks up in defense of Russian protesters

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Latvia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 5 released a statement defending the right of democratically-minded Russians to stage peaceful protests and sharply criticizing the heavy-handed response of the authorities in Moscow to such protests. 

"Latvia has always stood up for the right of individuals to freely express their political will in democratic, free and fair elections. On 27 July and 3 August, large-scale demonstrations took place in Moscow, with people protesting about the refusal of the Russian authorities to register independent candidates for the municipal elections planned for September 2019. On both of these occasions, a large number of demonstrators were detained by force. Latvia calls upon the Russian authorities to free the detained demonstrators without delay," the statement said.

"Latvia furthermore would like to stress the importance of adhering to the basic democratic principles and commitments which Russia has itself pledged to apply as a member of the OSCE and Council of Europe, and especially Russia’s resolution to ensure freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association, as guaranteed under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms," the statement added.

Russia has drawn widespread international criticism for the manner in which the security forces were deployed to crack down on protests in an entirely disproportionate manner. On August 3, Moscow police detained 685 people during protests, releasing most the next day.

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