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    Washington 'troubled' by arrests of protesters in Russia

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    The United States has voiced concerns over detentions of opposition protestors in Moscow, saying the move amounts to the "intimidation" of peaceful protesters.

    The United States has voiced concerns over detentions of opposition protestors in Moscow, saying the move amounts to the "intimidation" of peaceful protesters.

    "The United States is troubled by reports that dozens of people were detained in Moscow and other cities around Russia in connection with "Strategy 31" demonstrations," National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

    Russian opposition and human rights activists rally on the last day of every month with 31 days in honor of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

    Opposition leader Eduard Limonov and his supporters held protests around an officially sanctioned rally at Moscow's downtown Triumfalnaya Square on Monday after their application to hold a separate rally was rejected. Limonov and twenty of his backers were subsequently detained.

    Limonov and his supporters were later released.

    "These steps amount to intimidation of those who choose to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens, enshrined in the Russian constitution and in its international commitments," Vietor said.

    Vietor said the latest events run counter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recent comments on widening the political spectrum and urged Russia to "act to safeguard the fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly for all citizens."

    Washington also expressed concern over reports that the detainees were "mistreated" and "beaten" by police. Moscow police denied the accusations and said the activists were detained as they attempted to block entry to the sanctioned protest.

    WASHINGTON, February 1 (RIA Novosti)

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