Source AP ©

Austrian minister criticizes Russian police action against demonstrators

Austria's foreign minister has criticized the police in Russia for its response to weekend demonstrations.

"Police action against the demonstrators was disproportionately tough," Ursula Plassnik said in a statement Tuesday.

Over the weekend, anti-government protesters clashed with police in St. Petersburg, and more than 100 were detained, including several journalists.

"The right to assemble, freedom of speech ... belong to the basic values of every modern democracy," Plassnik said, adding that Russia had committed itself to the respect of such rights.

Human rights questions will be on the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Austria on May 23-24, Plassnik said.