Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the arrest of more than a thousand peaceful protesters in Russia, including Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny today:
“I was disturbed, yet sadly not surprised, to learn of the arrest of Aleksei Navalny, who has been a fearless leader in the fight for democracy and rule of law in Russia. Mr. Navalny’s efforts to organize nonviolent demonstrations against the Kremlin’s corruption in the face of growing poverty across Russia are a testament to his patriotism, and I join the international community in demanding his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all protesters unjustly detained.
“Tens of thousands of citizens across Russia have taken to the streets in protest despite the Russian government’s attempts to ban demonstrations and harass protestors. Amidst these growing calls for accountability and an end to corruption, Vladimir Putin has shown his true colors by cracking down on peaceful protests and reportedly detaining more than a thousand activists for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights. If we’ve learned anything from these demonstrations, it’s that the Russian people will not be intimidated or silenced by the Putin regime. They will continue to speak out against corruption and injustice and fight for truth and liberty for the Russian people.
“The timing of Mr. Navalny’s arrest is itself a cruel irony, as today is Russia Day, a national holiday commemorating the beginning of Russia’s democratic reforms in 1990. Putin’s reign of coercion and terror is an affront to those who fought so hard for that progress. The United States should make clear which side we are on: we stand with Aleksei Navalny and all Russians who want to live in freedom.”