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Wednesday Feb. 16, 2011 2:26 PM (EST+7)
Russia criticizes outside interference in Mideast

Read more: Russia, Egypt protests, Hamas, democracy, elections, Sergei Lavrov, William Hague

LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Russia criticized calls by outside powers for revolution or for specific types of democracy in the Middle East on Tuesday, saying such calls could be counter-productive.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali have both been forced from power by popular protests, and demonstrations have swept the Middle East and North Africa in the past few weeks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was concerned about the situation in the Middle East.

Asked about US calls for a transition to democracy in Egypt, where the army now holds power, Lavrov said: I believe it is counter-productive to encourage, to impose democracy of some specific pattern.

He asked if the Islamist group Hamas had won Palestinian parliamentary elections five years ago because Palestinians did not have the right democracy.

No, it's not the case. It is an example of double standards, he said, speaking at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague during a visit to London.

The United States and the European Union shun Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, calling it a terrorist organization.

Calls for revolution in the Middle East are also counter-productive, Lavrov said, through an interpreter.

We have had more than one revolution in Russia and we believe we don't need to impose revolutions on others. We don't think we need to tighten the screw or to take sides, he said.

The rest of the world should instead call on all sides in countries in the region to talk to each other to find an agreement among themselves, he said.(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Tim Pearce)






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