Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Jan. 22, 2021.

Mikhail Klimentyev/The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin would respond in kind if the new U.S. administration showed willingness to talk, a Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday, while also accusing Washington of meddling in mass protests in support of detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The Kremlin also downplayed the scale of Saturday’s demonstrations, which saw police detain more than 3,000 people and use force to break up rallies across Russia.

Prior to the protests, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had issued a “Demonstration Alert,” warning U.S. citizens to avoid the protests and naming the venues in Russian cities where protesters planned to gather.

Story continues below advertisement

“Of course, those publications are inappropriate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 1 TV on Sunday, according to Interfax news agency.

“And of course, indirectly, they are absolute interference in out internal affairs. So, this is a direct support of the breach in the Russian Federation’s law.”

The embassy, in e-mailed comments, said such warnings were a “common and routine practice” of many countries’ diplomatic missions.

“U.S. embassies and consulates around the world regularly issue safety and security messages to our citizens,” it said.

The United States on Saturday called on Russian authorities to release protesters and journalists detained at the demonstrations, and condemned what it called “harsh tactics” used by the police against them.

In central Moscow, where Reuters reporters estimated up to 40,000 people had gathered in one of the biggest unauthorized rallies for years, police were seen roughly detaining people and bundling them into nearby vans.

The authorities said just around 4,000 people had shown up, while the foreign ministry questioned Reuters’ crowd estimate.

Story continues below advertisement

“No, only a few people went out, many people voted for Putin,” Peskov said, according to the TASS news agency. He added that the Russians have supported constitutional reforms proposed by the president. Changes to the constitution will allow Putin to stay in power until 2036.

RELATIONS LOWEST IN YEARS

Navalny had called on his supporters to protest after being arrested last weekend as he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since being poisoned with a nerve agent he says was slipped to him by state security agents in August.

Even before the friction over Navalny, relations between Moscow and Washington have been at their lowest since the end of the Cold War, with the two sides also at odds over Russia’s role in Ukraine and allegations of its meddling in U.S. elections, which it denies, among other issues.

But Peskov had, nonetheless, struck a more conciliatory tone earlier on Sunday, when he said Russia was ready to set up a dialogue with the new administration of President Joe Biden.

“Of course, we count on success in setting up a dialogue,” he was quoted as saying on TV by Interfax news agency.

“This will be the dialogue where, of course, differences will have to be stated to a greater extent, points of differences. But at the same time, a dialogue is a possibility to find some rational kernels, the little parts where our relations are getting closer,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“And if the current U.S. administration is ready for such an approach, I have no doubts that our president will respond in kind.”

Putin was one of the last global leaders to congratulate Biden on his victory in the U.S. presidential election after the Nov. 3 vote.

One of the burning issues to be resolved by the two nuclear powers is the arms control treaty, known as New START, which is due to expire on Feb. 5.

The White House said last week that Biden would seek a five-year extension to the deal, while the Kremlin requested concrete proposals from Washington.

Washington was joined by the European Union and Britain in condemning the security forces’ handling of Saturday’s protests, while the foreign minister’s of Italy and France on Sunday both expressed support for sanctions against Moscow.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies