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White House 'Concerned' By July 31 Detentions In Russia

One of the detained protesters gestures to journalists and supporters from a police bus as he is taken from the rally in central Moscow on July 31.
The White House has expressed "concern" at the detention of nearly 100 people, including leading opposition voice Boris Nemtsov, during July 31 demonstrations in Russia protesting restrictions on freedom of assembly.

A statement by National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer said the United States "reiterates the importance of embracing and protecting universal values, including freedoms of expression and assembly, enshrined in the Russian Constitution as well as in international agreements which Russia has signed."

It added that "[t]he infringement of Russian citizens' rights to exercise these freedoms runs counter to our shared commitments to international norms and common interests in fostering modernization."

The demonstrations, organized for the final day of every month with 31 days, are meant to defend Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees the right to public gathering. At the July 31 protest in Moscow, police arrested Nemtsov amid reports of police brutality.

On August 2, U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) called for the "immediate release" of Nemtsov "and all who have been unfairly arrested in common cause with him.

compiled from agency reports