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France Concerned by Russian Demonstration Arrests

In this photo provided by Evgeny Feldman, Alexei Navalny is detained by police in downtown Moscow, Russia, March 26, 2017.

France voiced concern on Monday at bans on anti-corruption demonstrations in Russia and the detention of hundreds of protesters and it urged Moscow to respect its international commitments on freedom of expression.

"This situation causes deep concern in France," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

"Freedoms of protest, meeting, association and expression are fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Russian constitution and the international commitments which Russia has subscribed to. We call on the Russian authorities to respect these commitments," he said.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among hundreds of protesters detained across Russia on Sunday, after thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against corruption and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

A court on Monday sentenced Navalny to 15 days in prison, saying he had disobeyed a police officer.

The Kremlin said on Friday that plans for the central Moscow protest, which the city's authorities had rejected, were illegal.

It rejected calls on Monday from the United States and the European Union to release detained protesters and accused organizers of paying teenagers to attend.