Russia accuses US of meddling after embassy posted map of illegal rally

9 August 2019, 15:07 | Updated: 9 August 2019, 18:52

Russia has accused the US of meddling in its domestic affairs after the embassy posted a map showing the route of an unauthorised rally.

Russia's ministry of foreign affairs said it had summoned a senior US diplomat, accusing them of sharing the map for the protest held on 3 August in Moscow.

Police detained hundreds of people at the latest in a series of opposition rallies ahead of the Moscow city election next month.

It was the biggest standoff between the authorities and opposition in years.

The US embassy warned its citizens in an English-language statement on its website on 2 August to avoid the protest route, and said the rally had not been sanctioned by Moscow authorities.

The statement included a map of the planned route.

The post on the website, which is still accessible, read: "Gathering points along Moscow's Boulevard Ring include Pokrovskiye Vorota, Prechistenskiye Vorota, Nikitskiye Vorota, Trubnaya Square, Turgenevskaya Square, and Novopushinsky Park. Heavy police presence is expected.

"The protest rally has not been sanctioned by authorities. Given the possible size of the protest and the large police presence, US citizens should avoid the protest route."

It also advised US citizens to carry their passport and a valid Russian visa.

The Russia foreign ministry said in a statement: "We underlined that we consider the publication of the route... as promoting participation in (the protest) and calling for action, which constitutes interference in the internal affairs of our country."

The US embassy has not responded.

It comes after Russia accused German media outlet Deutsche Welle of calling on Russians to take part in recent anti-government protests.

On Wednesday, Russia's main election board upheld rulings which have banned several critics of the Kremlin from standing in September's elections.

Investigators have called the protests mass civil unrest, an offence punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

But protesters say the rallies have so far been entirely peaceful and accuse authorities of using pressure tactics to scare people away.

The government has sanctioned two rallies this weekend, to be held at Akademika Sakharov Avenue in Moscow between 2pm and 4.30pm local time, on 10 and 11 August.

The government is allowing for 100,000 people at the events - the first of the recent protests to have been approved by Russia.