Saudi slams Russia over remarks on Shiite unrest
Saudi Arabia on July 14 condemned comments by Russia’s human rights envoy on the situation in the kingdom as “hostile” and an unjustified interference in the kingdom’s internal affairs, the Saudi state news agency (SPA) reported.
It accused Konstantin Dolgov, Russian foreign ministry’s commissioner for human rights, of diverting attention from the “massacres” that were being committed by Moscow’s ally, Damascus, in Syria, Agence France-Presse reported.
Dolgov had expressed “great concern” about the situation in eastern Saudi Arabia following what he described as clashes between law enforcement and peaceful demonstrators in which two people were killed and more than 20 were wounded, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry website, according to Reuters. He urged Saudi authorities “to ensure... the right for freedom of expression of opinion, peaceful demonstrations and freedom of associations.” The Saudi interior ministry has said there were no clashes but that two people were killed by unknown assailants last Sunday in the east, where the country’s minority Muslim Shi’ite population is concentrated.
“The Kingdom learned with strong astonishment and surprise about the comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s representative on human rights which represents a blatant and unjustified intervention ... in the internal affairs of the kingdom,” SPA quoted a Foreign Ministry statement, attributed to an “official source,” as saying.
The agency said the government of Saudi Arabia condemned such comments as “hostile.”
Riyadh said it has always “refrained from interfering in Russia’s affairs and policies towards unrest within its borders that has killed many.” “The kingdom hopes that such strange remarks do not aim at diverting attention away from the brutal and savage massacres the Syrian regime is committing against its people with support from well-known parties that set obstacles in the face of any effort to end bloodshed in Syria.” Tensions have been running high between both countries which had taken opposite stances towards the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.