The Kremlin says it will not heed calls by some Western countries for sanctions over Russia's detention of poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny, insisting his case is a purely domestic matter.
Mr Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time since he was attacked with a military-grade nerve agent last summer while travelling in Russia's east, and has urged Russians to take to the streets in protest.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands near law enforcement agents in a hallway in Moscow on December 26, 2019. Source: AFP
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want the European Union to respond with sanctions against Moscow.
"We hear these statements, but we cannot and don't plan to take these into account," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"This is about a Russian citizen not complying with Russian law. This is an absolutely domestic matter and we will not allow anyone to interfere in it."
Mr Peskov said Mr Navalny had genuine questions to answer about violating his parole conditions for a suspended prison sentence.
Mr Navalny has been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days.
In 2014, he received a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence for embezzlement, in a case that he says was fabricated for political reasons.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his wife Yulia and other demonstrators march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov on February 29, 2020. Source: AFP
Mr Peskov also dismissed as nonsense the notion that President Vladimir Putin fears Mr Navalny.
"Different statements about someone being afraid of someone else are absolutely nonsense," he said.
Mr Peskov said Mr Navalny's calls for Russians to take to the streets over his detention were alarming, but that the Kremlin did not fear mass protests.