Putin hails Russia’s vaccine development in annual address

Putin hails Russia’s vaccine development in annual address

His team called the nationwide protests for the same day that Putin gave his annual state-of-the-nation address.

The OVD-Info monitoring group, which tracks detentions at opposition protests, said that by Thursday morning police had detained "more than 1,783 people in 97 cities".

Putin unsurprisingly made no mention of Navalny in his speech -- he has always refused to use the name of his most prominent opponent.

The West has demanded Navalny's release and U.S. President Joe Biden's White House said on Monday that the Russian government would be held to account for his fate and that he must be treated humanely.

The perpetrators of any provocations against Russian Federation will come to regret it "in the way that they have not regretted anything for a long time", he said, without mentioning any names.

"If someone interprets our good intentions as indifference or weakness and is willing to cross a "red line" they should know that Russia's response will be asymmetric, fast and tough", Putin stated.

Russian Federation would determine where its red line lay in each specific case, he said. "And where this line will be, in every particular case, we will determine it ourselves".

Putin backed claims by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that his security services had thwarted an alleged U.S. plot to assassinate him, suggesting senior USA officials were involved in a "coup attempt" and accusing the West of pretending "that nothing is happening".

Putin went as far as accusing the West of staging massive sabotage and even trying to murder embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, supporting the embattled leader's claims that his security services had thwarted an alleged USA plot to assassinate him.

He began his state-of-the-nation speech by hailing the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the quick development of three coronavirus vaccines underlined Russia's technological and industrial potential.

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Much of Putin's address was devoted to a slew of announcements of new social spending and aid to families, as the longtime leader looks to shore up support for his deeply unpopular United Russia party ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

"I am not aware that anywhere the rallies were held in a legal manner", Peskov said.

"The situation with Alexei is indeed critical, and so we moved up the day of the mass protests", Vladimir Ashurkov, a close Navalny ally and executive director of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, told the Associated Press. Lyubov Sobol, one of the faces of Navalny's popular YouTube channel, and Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman, were both detained in Moscow.

Navalny started a prison hunger strike three weeks ago to protest what he says is inadequate medical treatment for his back pains and officials' refusal to allow a visit by his doctor.

The largest of the protests took place in Moscow, where thousands marched through the center city.

Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months convalescing from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin - an accusation Russian officials have rejected.

He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years on old fraud charges his supporters say were politically motivated and has been serving time in a penal colony about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Moscow.

Four doctors from outside Russia's federal prison service visited Navalny on Tuesday and found his health to be satisfactory, Russian human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said.

Doctors over the weekend warned that the 44-year-old's health was deteriorating to such an extent he could die at "any minute", while the United States threatened Russian Federation with "consequences" in the event of his death.

While Putin targeted his critics, he also praised his country's progress in the a year ago.

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