Moscow objects to U.S. embassy's support for 'illegal' protests in Russia

·1-min read

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday it had filed a complaint with the U.S. ambassador over what it described as the embassy's support for "illegal" protests on Saturday, which it said amounted to meddling in Russian affairs.

The Foreign Ministry said deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had protested to ambassador John Sullivan. Moscow considered statements by the U.S. State Department in support of the protests to be "unacceptable", it said.

Police detained more than 3,000 people and used force to break up rallies across Russia on Saturday as tens of thousands of protesters ignored extreme cold and police warnings to demand the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

On Saturday, the State Department condemned what it described as "harsh tactics" against protesters. It called for Navalny and the protesters to be freed.

The U.S. embassy said Sullivan and Ryabkov had spoken in a previously scheduled call. Sullivan told Ryabkov the embassy had put out a statement before the protests as a security warning to U.S. citizens in Russia, it said.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Catherine Evans)