Moscow, Russia | On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin promised his foreign rivals a “harsh” response if they tried to attack Russia amid mounting tensions with the West and before opposition protests threatened repression.
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Washington and the European Union have condemned the deployment of tens of thousands of Russian forces weeks ago On the borders of Ukraine. They tirelessly criticize the imprisonment of the main Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, who is on a three-week hunger strike and who is dying according to his relatives.
The Russian president, in his grand annual speech, warned his foreign opponents.
And he stressed that “the organizers of the provocations that threaten our security will regret it because they did not regret anything.”
“I hope no one has an idea to cross the red line,” he said again, promising a “asymmetric, fast and difficult” response.
Its spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, explained to Russian agencies that these lines are related to Moscow’s interests, interference in domestic political life, and any “insulting” statements to the country.
Russia, due to the conflict in Ukraine, suppression of opposition, accusations of cyberattacks, espionage and electoral interference, is subject to multiple Western sanctions.
However, the only accurate international file that Mr. Putin dealt with was the attempted “coup and assassination of the President of Belarus,” which was revealed by the security services of the two countries last week.
Putin denounced Western silence on the eve of a meeting in Moscow with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, who is hated in the West over the brutal suppression of a protest movement since August 2020.
COVID-19, crisis and elections
At the local level, the economic and health crisis caused by the Coronavirus has appeared prominently in the speech, especially since the legislative elections are scheduled for September.
He promised to provide additional aid to families or to curb food price inflation.
“The most important thing now is ensuring that citizens ‘income grows,” he said, as Russians’ purchasing power has been weak for years, under the influence of sanctions and now the pandemic as well. .
With the election approaching, Vladimir Putin is still popular, but his party, notoriously corrupt, is not. According to the Levada Institute measure in March, voting intentions for a united Russia are 21%.
The unpopularity that Mr. Navalny relied on during the election campaign.
On the health front, Mr. Putin praised the Russian scientific successes, with the development of national vaccines to combat Covid, which would “allow herd immunity to develop in the fall.”
Not a single word on Navalny
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Putin has not said a word about the fate of Alexei Navalny, who stopped eating on March 31 to protest his conditions of detention. The West demands his release and the fact of his poisoning in August 2020, in which the special services will participate.
France Press agency
Pictured: Prison where opponent Navalny is being held.
Hoping to balance the day of the presidential speech, His supporters called for demonstrations in about 100 cities.
“In order to hold fair elections and release political prisoners, it takes hundreds of thousands and millions of people to take to the streets not once, but as many times as necessary,” said Leonid Volkov, a relative of Mr. Navalny who went into exile. .
Mobilization appeared to be less important in the provinces than it had been during previous demonstrations in January and February, when tens of thousands of Russians demonstrated, resulting in the arrest of at least 11,000 people.
And in Novosibirsk, Siberia, there were hundreds, according to a video clip from Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund, chanting “Putin the Killer.” In Tomsk, where the opponent was poisoned, a small crowd shouted “Free him”.
In Moscow, protesters want to meet near the Kremlin, but the police must be there aggressively to stop them.
On Wednesday, the specialized non-governmental organization, OVD-Info, recorded 113 arrests in the country. The searches also targeted members of the movement.
Navalny’s wife, Lollia, posted a picture of the couple with their two children, saying, “Come on soon!” “
Finally, starting next week, the justice system should study a request from the Public Prosecution office to classify the organizations linked to the opponent as “extremists”, which would expose their activists to prison terms.
The expelled American diplomats will have to leave Russia on May 21
A Russian diplomat said on Wednesday that the 10 U.S. diplomats expelled by Moscow in retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats stationed in Washington last week will have to leave Russia by May 21.
A senior US embassy official was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where he was handed a memorandum stating that “ten unwanted employees of the US embassy”, who would have to “leave our lands before May 21,” according to a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Moscow specifies that “this procedure represents a reciprocal reaction to the hostilities of the American side against a certain number of employees of the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate General in New York,” warning that “other steps will follow.”