Russian Federation jails journalist Sergei Smirnov over Alexei Navalny protest

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Mr Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who is Mr Putin's most determined political foe, was arrested on January 17 on his return from a five-month convalescence in Germany from the poisoning which he has blamed on the Kremlin.

The United Nations has called for unconditional release of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, along with the thousands of protesters detained during recent demonstrations.

He said that protesters won a "huge moral victory" and argued that trying to maintain rallies each weekend would only lead to thousands more arrests and wear participants out.

Navalny was sentenced to almost three years in prison today when a court made a decision to turn a 2014 suspended sentence into real jail time. Russian authorities deny any involvement and claim they have no proof that he was poisoned despite tests by several European labs.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian Federation won't listen to Western criticism of Navalny's sentencing and the police action against protesters.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday said America will no longer be "rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions" and his officials said they would take action over Mr Navalny.

In addition to imprisoning Navalny, authorities put his brother and several close associates under house arrest.

The Kremlin also says police had been right to use force to break up protests over his imprisonment.

On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights body said Navalny's prison sentence is baseless and politically motivated.

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Mr Lavrov criticised the European Union for alleged human rights abuses in Latvia and said that Brussels and Moscow were united in their criticism of the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

"A political disagreement is never a crime", Mr Macron said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated the German leader's call for Mr Navalny's immediate release on Wednesday and an end to the police crackdown against anti-government protesters.

Meanwhile, the German government has said it was not ruling out further sanctions against Russian Federation over the verdict.

Lavrov told his new counterpart it was necessary to respect Russia's legislation and judicial system, according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

More than 1,400 people were detained late Tuesday and overnight, including 1,170 in Moscow and more than 250 in St. Petersburg, when demonstrators took to the streets to protest the court's order to send Navalny to prison, according to the independent OVD-INFO group that documents arrests.

In a no-holds-barred response to the protest, police arrested over 10,000 protest participants across Russian Federation and beat scores, according to arrest-monitoring group OVD-Info.

"Undoubtedly, such activities must be suppressed quite harshly", he said.

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