Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was arrested upon his return to Russia, returning five months after an alleged poisoning attack.
Russia has dismissed growing international criticism of the arrest of opposition figurehead Alexey Navalny as interference, saying the case against him is an internal matter.
Leaders in several Western countries, many of whom have demanded responses from Russia on the alleged August poisoning attack on Navalny, have called for the Kremlin critic’s immediate release.
Moscow’s latest moves against Navalny add to existing tensions between Russia and the West.
After Navalny’s arrest on Sunday evening, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia urged the European Union to react and impose sanctions on Russia.
On Monday, Navalny was jailed for 30 days pending further hearings in a case relating to his suspended sentence in 2014 for embezzlement. Navalny said the charges against him were politically motivated.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Moscow was aware of the reaction to Navalny’s arrest but “could not and did not plan” to take those responses into account.
“This is a Russian citizen breaking Russian law,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “This is an absolutely domestic matter and we will not allow anyone to interfere.”
Peskov also dismissed the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin fears Navalny.
“Different statements that someone is afraid of someone else are absolutely absurd,” he said.
After being sent to prison, Navalny called on his supporters to take to the streets and demonstrate.
Peskov said the calls were alarming, but added that the Kremlin was not afraid of mass protests.
At least 13 demonstrators were arrested on Monday outside the police station on the outskirts of Moscow, where the hastily organized hearing by Navalny was held, and at least 55 demonstrators were arrested by police in St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia, according to activists. .
Navalny was arrested upon landing at a Moscow airport, arriving from Berlin, where he had spent five months recovering from an alleged nerve poisoning attack he attributes to the Kremlin – an accusation Russia denies.