Russia said on Wednesday it would not take any lessons from France on protest violence, as it accused Paris of using “repressive tactics” against anti-government demonstrators linked to the Yellow Vest movement. Maria Zakharova, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, warned French President Emmanuel Macron’s government against “lecturing” Russia on its handling of unauthorised protests in light of its own struggle to contain the sometimes-violent yellow vest revolt. Her comments came after France voiced “deep concern” on Monday at bans on anti-corruption demonstrations in Russia, urging Moscow to respect its international commitments on freedom of expression.
“This is the same France where, for nearly a year, heavy fighting has broken out between protesters and police,” Mrs Zakharova said in a Facebook post.
“French authorities have used all sorts of repressive tactics against citizens: tear gas, water cannons and mass arrests,” she said.
Before adding: “The Yellow Vest protests were not authorised and police acted as though protesters were foreign occupiers and not French citizens.”
French authorities have already been accused of a heavy-handed response to the yellow vest crisis, which began in November over fuel tax hikes before snowballing into a revolt against the Macron government, widely perceived as arrogant and indifferent to the working class.
The French protests have been marred by violent clashes and looting, with riot police quashing the unrest with tear gas and rubber bullets, but