Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden administration prepared to use 'other tools' on Iran amid troubled nuclear talks US intelligence says Russia planning Ukraine offensive involving 175K troops: reports MORE condemned what he said were "harsh tactics" deployed "against peaceful protesters and journalists" during recent protests in Moscow against Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUkraine rejects claims that it violated Belarus air space Ernst on Russian buildup on Ukraine border: 'We must prepare for the worst' Biden cannot allow his domestic fumbles to transfer to the world stage MORE's government on Sunday.
In a tweet, Blinken added that the U.S. "renew[s] our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Aleksey Navalny," after news reports indicated that thousands were arrested during recent demonstrations.
The U.S. condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight. We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Aleksey Navalny.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 31, 2021
Navalny is a top critic of Putin's who doctors said was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok last year. He was arrested this month upon his return to Russia following his recovery in a German hospital.
The Russian opposition figure has remained in detention since then with courts finding that he violated the terms of his 2014 conviction for embezzlement, a conviction disputed as politically motivated by the European Court of Human Rights.
His case was one of several "matters of concern" touched upon during President Biden's first call with Putin earlier this month, according to White House officials.
“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward,” the White House said in a statement following the call.