Russian FM to US: Don't stir up protests in Middle East

After meeting British PM Cameron, counterpart Hague, Lavrov says Moscow is "convinced that calls for revolutions are counterproductive."

February 15, 2011 16:57
2 minute read.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

lavrov 311. (photo credit: AP)

LONDON — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that the US and Western allies should not stir up pro-democracy protests in the Middle East following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

After meeting with members of Britain's government, Lavrov warned against any attempts by other nations to fuel public dissent.

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Analysis: 'This may be the first spark of revolution in Iran'

In recent days Iran's opposition has taken to the streets of central Tehran, while demonstrators have held protests in Bahrain and Yemen.

"We are convinced that calls for revolutions are counterproductive. We have had more than one revolution in Russia, and we believe that we don't need to impose revolutions on others," Lavrov told reporters. "We don't think that we need to tighten the screw, or take sides."

Lavrov was holding talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, and seeking to bolster ties badly damaged by the 2006 poisoning death in London of dissident ex-Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko.

At a news conference with Hague, Lavrov insisted the international community should restrict itself to urging regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa to hold talks aimed at meeting the demands of protesters.

"Only in this way we can ensure the stable evolution into the direction that will be in the interests of each country," Lavrov said.

In response to a question about remarks made by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Lavrov said Russia believed it was wrong for nations to encourage others to "impose democracy, or some specific pattern, and we hear such encouragement."

Lavrov confirmed he would deliver Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's personal invitation to Cameron to visit Moscow later this year.

Hague said he and Lavrov would attend a whiskey tasting at exclusive wine merchant Berry Bros. and Rudd, part of Britain's hopes of boosting its exports.

The men signed a treaty agreeing to upgrade a secure communications link between London's Downing Street and the Kremlin, Hague said. He confirmed plans for greater collaboration on thwarting organized crime and projects aimed at tackling the radicalization of young Muslims.

Britain planned to make a "patient, steady improvement" in its relations with Russia, while acknowledging the two countries still have major disagreements on some issues, Hague said.

His ministry confirmed there would be no change on Britain's policy of not cooperating with Russia's Federal Security Service, the main successor to the feared Soviet KGB, and known by its Russian language acronym, the FSB.

The UK broke off ties between its intelligence agencies and the FSB following Litvinenko's death. On his deathbed, Litvinenko blamed then-Russian President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning.

Russia has repeatedly refused to grant British requests for the extradition of the chief suspect in the case, ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi. In turn, Moscow accuses Britain of refusing to turn over dozens of alleged criminals to Russia.

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