Polish FM reacts to Russia's actions against peaceful demonstrations

Poland's foreign minister expressed his unease over the actions of the Russian state against participants in Saturday's peaceful protests held across Russia in support of oppositionist Alexei Navalny.

Navalny was detained in Moscow after returning to Russia from Germany on January 17. It was his first visit to his homeland since he was almost killed in Siberia by a nerve-agent attack he has blamed on the Russian authorities.

"We are concerned by the #RU state's reaction against peaceful demonstrators. We call to stop the violation of human rights," Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau wrote on Twitter in English.

Rau also said that in these circumstances the European Union "needs unity and determination".

The number of people who took part in Saturday's unauthorised demonstration in Moscow was estimated by the police at 4,000. Media estimates are much higher, with the Reuters agency reporting 40,000 participants. Demonstrators also clashed with police during the demonstrations.

According to recent estimates by the OWD-Info portal that monitors detentions in Russia, 1,955 people were arrested nationwide, including 681 in Moscow itself, during the demonstrations in defence of Navalny. During the Moscow demonstration, Navalny's wife Julia was also arrested and released three hours later.