Kremlin Says Expected U.S. Sanctions Would Interfere With Russia's Presidential Election The Kremlin says it expects new U.S. sanctions on Russian business leaders would interfere in Russia's presidential election in March. Meanwhile, the Kremlin says an opposition leader detained and later released during Sunday's protests poses no threat to President Vladimir Putin.

Kremlin Says Expected U.S. Sanctions Would Interfere With Russia's Presidential Election

Kremlin Says Expected U.S. Sanctions Would Interfere With Russia's Presidential Election

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/581675004/581675005" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Kremlin says it expects new U.S. sanctions on Russian business leaders would interfere in Russia's presidential election in March. Meanwhile, the Kremlin says an opposition leader detained and later released during Sunday's protests poses no threat to President Vladimir Putin.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Kremlin is accusing Washington of trying to disrupt its upcoming presidential election. It says U.S. sanctions and a boycott campaign by opposition leader Alexei Navalny are part of Washington's plan. Navalny organized rallies in many Russian cities over the weekend to protest his exclusion from the March election. Even though the Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has nothing to fear from Navalny, police arrested Navalny and his supporters anyway, as NPR's Lucian Kim reports.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Several thousand Russians marched in more than 100 cities across the country Sunday. But the Kremlin says it isn't impressed. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the protest organizer, Alexei Navalny, is not a threat. But the authorities were forced to react to his illegal rallies - like this one in Moscow, where protesters tried to shout down police with cries of Putin is a thief.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Russian).

KIM: Activists say about 370 people were arrested across Russia. Navalny was detained and bundled into a police bus as he headed to the Moscow rally. He was released later Sunday night. In an appeal to supporters over the weekend, Navalny was as biting as ever.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEXEI NAVALNY: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: "How many more years will you live under these thieves, bigots and perverts," he asked. Navalny is calling on Russians to boycott the March election after his own candidacy was blocked. Putin, who has already ruled Russia for 18 years, has suggested Navalny is an American stooge. Earlier this month, Putin said several candidates weren't allowed to register for the vote, but the Americans focused only on Navalny.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Putin said that proved the U.S. prefers to see Navalny as Russia's next leader. The Kremlin says the U.S. is constantly trying to interfere in Russian domestic politics by supporting critical media or imposing sanctions on Russian companies and individuals. Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.