Russian citizens have the right to express their opinion only within the boundaries of law, said Russian President Vladimir Putin , commenting on Saturday protests in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Unsanctioned protests, according to Putin, are "not just counterproductive, but dangerous," and the fact that calls for protests are spread among minors puts them at the level as terrorism.
"In no case should minors be instigated. This is what terrorists who send women and children ahead of them do. The comparison is a bit off, but in essence it is the same thing," Interfax quoted Putin as saying.
There have been many cases in Russian history, "when the situation went far beyond the law and led to such a shake-up of society and the government, from which caused suffering not only to those who rocked the state and society, but also to those people who had nothing to do with it," Putin said. As an example, he cited the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
According to Putin, in the United States, where on January 6 protesters captured the Capitol Building, the security forces promised total arrests of all participants.
"What will they do to these people? As one FBI chief said, We have long arms. We'll get everyone, we'll catch everyone, we'll put everyone in jail. Fifteen to twenty-five years sentence for domestic terrorism," Putin said.
He added that he sees no reason why Russia should be different.
"Why should everything be allowed outside the law?" asked Putin, and answered, "It should not."
As for the actions of the security forces, they "should do their job, but also within their official duties and the law," Putin added.
Protests in Russia on January 23 swept across 112 cities. In Moscow, according to the Russian Interior Ministry, 4,000 people took to the streets, according to the volunteer group "The White Counter" - 15-20 thousand. Reuters reported 40,000 protesters.
More than 3,500 people were detained across the country, which was an absolute record for Russia’s modern history.