Russia: Alexei Navalny supporters protest in Moscow
The UK has joined a growing number of Western nations in heavily criticising Russia, and its leader Putin, over the handling of anti-government protesters across the nation. Thousands of demonstrators have been arrested by Russian authorities as they reject Moscow’s handling of Putin’s political opponent Alexei Navalny. The US, UK and EU all voiced their condemnation, as the world witnessed the police use devastating force to detain protesters in cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok.
Among the outraged representatives was France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who claimed the scenes were “a slide towards authoritarianism”.
Mr Navalny was arrested as he re-entered Russia, after he was poisoned last year in Germany.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has demanded he and his supporters be released, with Jen Psaki – the White House press secretary – calling on Russia to “cooperate” with the investigation into Mr Navalny’s poisoning.
Russia’s frustrations with the West have descended rapidly over the years, particularly with the likes of Washington and London.
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And in one encounter, Moscow infuriated the UK by demanding the Falkland Islands be relinquished and power handed to Argentina.
Russian ambassador Dmitry Feoktistov suggested Russia would “always support” Buenos Aires in the dispute, and that both nations honour those who passed in the Falklands War of 1982.
The 10-week dispute began after Argentina invaded and occupied the Falklands, considered British Overseas Territory since 1841.
In total, nearly 1,000 military personnel perished as a result of the conflict, which would see the UK claim victory.
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Buenos Aires maintains the islands are Argentine territory, and last year Mr Feoktistov reaffirmed Russia’s stance on the tiny cluster of islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
He said: “In Russia we have the commemoration of the Immortal Regiment on Victory Day, when people go out with portraits of their loved ones who died in the war.
“In Argentina we commemorate it in St. Martin Square, we march to the Monument of the Fallen in Malvinas (Falklands) and many Argentines join us on this date.”
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He told “all veterans and Argentines” that Moscow “has always been and will always be with you”, adding: “The time of colonialism has passed and the English must return the Malvinas Islands to Argentina.”
During the undeclared war, Russia showed its support by handing over “crucial satellite information which helped with some of the greatest coups of the Argentine forces in sinking Royal Navy vessels”.
In 2010’s ‘Fidel, Football and the Malvinas’, author Sergey Brilev sensationally claimed how in May 1982, the Soviets launched its Kosmos 1365 satellite, which was positioned over the Falklands.
It gave Moscow crucial data on the UK’s strategy, which was then handed over to Buenos Aires.
Mr Brilev claims this allowed the sinking of British vessel HMS Sheffield, and the author remains “convinced” the boat’s demise was “due to information given by the Soviets”.
During the attack on HMS Sheffield, 20 crew members died, with another 26 injured. Only one body was recovered.
Mr Brilev claims the conflict will be remembered as the “first armed incident of a major dispute in Antarctica”.
He concluded: “In a couple of decades we’ll be facing a situation where the traditional sources of minerals and energy will be exhausted and the last great important reserves are in the Antarctic continent: that is why the Falklands, as I see it, will be considered a first major conflict over Antarctica.”
But tensions remain in Russia, and Putin has found himself under intense scrutiny for his position on Mr Navalny.
The likes of Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has ordered that sanctions be placed on Moscow, while Manfred Weber, a German conservative – who is head of the centre-right EPP group in EU Parliament – said the protesters’ arrests should be overturned.
He added: “It’s unacceptable that the Russian leadership is trying to make short work of the burgeoning protests by arresting thousands of demonstrators.
“The EU foreign ministers are not allowed to dodge this once again and stop at general appeals.
“The EU has to hit where it really hurts the Putin system – and that’s the money.”
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