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US Embassy meddled in Moscow anti-govt unrest by mapping protest locations online – FM

US Embassy meddled in Moscow anti-govt unrest by mapping protest locations online – FM
The American diplomatic mission in Russia is meddling in domestic affairs, Moscow claims. The US had posted the locations and routes of recent massive opposition rallies in the capital, which saw scuffles with police and arrests.

The US Embassy had published a map of downtown Moscow that flagged sites where anti-government rallies were about to happen on August 3. The map went public a day before the protests, which led the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to believe that the US mission had known beforehand where the unrest would take place.

On Friday, the ministry summoned Tim Richardson, the head of the US Embassy’s political section, to voice its unease over the alleged US role in the demonstrations. Posting the chart on their website and Twitter account, the Embassy had tacitly encouraged residents to take to the streets, the foreign ministry statement reads.

This “was an attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of our country,” it insisted.

Aside from the US embassy’s map, the publication in question listed the most frequently-visited parts of Moscow, warning US citizens to stay alert, be aware of their surroundings and carry a proper US passport with the Russian visa. “Given the possible size of the protest and the large police presence, US citizens should avoid the protest route,” it advised.

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Moscow witnessed a string of opposition rallies on August 3 and, a week earlier on July 27, with opposition activists protesting the city’s decision to disqualify numerous independent candidates over alleged procedural fraud. Over 2,000 people were detained by police during both rallies.

Moscow’s opposition leaders plan to push ahead with more protests this Saturday. Activists in other big Russian cities are also likely to follow suit.

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