The U.S. State Department says the crackdown by the Russian government on the Navalny brothers is a ''disturbing development.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The U.S. State Department condemned the sentencing and jailing by the Russian government of a prominent Kremlin critic and his brother on Tuesday (December 30). A Russian court gave critic Alexei Navalny a suspended sentence for embezzling money but jailed his brother for three and a half years in a case seen as part of a campaign to stifle dissent. "The decision is a disturbing development in our view and it appears to be designed to further punish and deter political activism," Jeff Rathke, the State Department press office director, told reporters. In Moscow, as hundreds of his supporters gathered in front of the Kremlin, Navalny broke house arrest to join the rally but was swiftly detained and driven back home by police. Navalny led mass protests against President Vladimir Putin three years ago, when tens of thousands took to the streets in Moscow and St Petersburg to protest against corruption in his government and inner circle.