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U.S. Regrets Russia's Arrest Of Protesters

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in a Moscow court on January 3

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in a Moscow court on January 3

The United States has criticized Russia for arresting dozens of political protesters over the New Year's weekend.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley stressed "the importance of embracing and protecting universal values, including freedom of expression and assembly."

"We believe it is in Russia's interest to promote freedom of expression and as we've noted, this is something that Russian leaders have endorsed publicly but now they need to follow through," Crowley said.

"These kinds of arrests, we think, are contrary not only to commitments that Russia has made but also to Russia's long-term interests."

A prominent Kremlin critic, Boris Nemtsov, was sentenced to 15 days in jail on January 2 for disobeying police orders after being arrested at a New Year's Eve protest rally in Moscow.

Three other opposition figures -- Eduard Limonov, Konstantin Kosyakin, and Ilya Yashin -- were also given sentences of between five and 15 days in jail in connection with the rally.

The protest was the latest in a series of rallies held to assert the right to freedom of assembly.

compiled from agency reports