Mr. Speaker, yesterday thousands of Russian citizens assembled peacefully in cities right across Russia. Their purpose was to demand that the government put an end to cases of rampant corruption.
This is not the first such protest. Just as in March of this year, the Russian authorities moved quickly to clamp down on the legitimate expression of discontent. Over 1,500 people were reported detained simply for exercising their right to join their fellow citizens in protest and peaceful assembly.
Organizers of the Moscow and St. Petersburg protests were arrested before they even left home. Although many have since been released, others remain in custody.
Peaceful protests, in which citizens can freely voice their concerns, are critical to a functioning democracy. Canadians are greatly concerned by these arrests and the civil rights of the Russian people.
We call for the respect of democratic rights and norms and the immediate release of all peaceful protestors and journalists detained. We have repeatedly and forcefully spoken out against rights abuses in Russia, and Canada will continue to do so.