A deputy head of the Russian lower house's international committee, Alexander Kozlovsky, on Tuesday called on the United States to respect Russia's court rulings, reacting to the U.S. criticism over the recently handed 15-day jail sentence to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
On Monday a statement by U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer read: "Months ago, we were pleased that the Moscow authorities reversed their previous policy and decided to allow peaceful demonstrations on the 31st of every other month."
"Therefore, we were surprised to learn that some of these demonstrators were arrested on December 31st, and in the case of Boris Nemtsov and some others, given long sentences for what seemed to be an exercise of their constitutional rights," it said.
"In these statements Nemtsov again appears as a 'fighter for human rights,'" Kozlovsky said, and insisted that on December 31, Nemtsov was arrested and then jailed for disobedience to police rather than for rallying.
Kozlovsky said he had repeatedly traveled to the United States, and added that he knows the strictness of U.S. laws against violators of any regulations.
"We are far from interfering with the affairs of American law enforcement and judicial structures, we respect the U.S. sovereignty, and we are entitled to expect the same from our American partners when the talk is about observing constitutional law and order in the Russian Federation," the State Duma deputy said.
Moscow police spokesman Viktor Biryukov said earlier Tuesday that the December 31 arrests, including Nemtsov's detention, were triggered by the opposition figures' aggressive reaction and disobedience to police.
"Police officers had to detain Nemtsov, [Ilya] Yashin and other aggressively minded rally participants after they tried to break through a police cordon and called on citizens to carry out illegal actions against police officers," Biryukov said.
Two protest rallies - one sanctioned and the other not, were held at Moscow's central Triumfalnaya Square on the last day of 2010. Several opposition leaders were detained a few hours before the beginning of 2011.
Nemtsov, a staunch critic of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in an interview with the liberal Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy called the sentence "mockery of common sense" and said he would challenge it.
MOSCOW, January 4 (RIA Novosti)