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The U.S. ambassador in Russia criticized Moscow police for cracking down on demonstrators protesting Vladimir Putin’s victory in Sunday’s presidential election.

“Troubling to watch arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Pushkin Square,” Ambassador Michael McFaul wrote in a Twitter message, referring to protests in downtown Moscow.

“Freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are universal values,” he added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry defended the police arrests of hundreds of protesters.

“The police on Pushkin were several times more humane that what we saw in the breakup of Occupy Wall Street protests,” the ministry said.

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