December 20, 2012 |
MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin on Thursday further distanced his government from Syria's leader, saying Russia would not back Bashar Assad's regime “at any price” and recognized the need for a change in the Middle Eastern nation. “We are not concerned with the fate of Assad's regime,” Putin said during his annual news conference in Moscow. “We understand what is going on, given that the [Assad] family has been in power for 40 years and that the need of change is certainly on the agenda.” Putin said the Kremlin's “position is not to back Assad and his regime in power at any price.” However, he said that the Syrian conflict needed to be resolved by negotiation.
December 14, 2012 |
Russian officials hurried to tamp down a global flurry of speculation Friday after a top diplomat said Syrian rebels might succeed in their push to oust President Bashar Assad, insisting that Moscow's stand in support of the embattled Syrian leader was unchanged. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov remarked Thursday that “an opposition victory can't be excluded,” the first such admission from the Kremlin, which has stood firmly by Assad against international pressure as he faces a bloody uprising that has endured for 21 months.
December 13, 2012 |
MOSCOW - A high-level Russian diplomat conceded Thursday that Syrian rebels could succeed in ousting President Bashar Assad, becoming the first top Kremlin official to say publicly that the government of Moscow's staunchest Middle Eastern ally could be teetering. The comments of Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov came as two more explosions rocked the restive suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, the latest in a string of deadly car bombings that appear to be part of an insurgent offensive on the city.
December 9, 2012 |
BEIRUT - Russia said Sunday that it has no intention of pushing for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, as international negotiators seeking a way out of the escalating Syrian crisis again failed to reach a breakthrough. Meantime, Syria's turmoil continued to spill over its borders, as four more people were killed in the latest spasm of Syria-related violence in the tense northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. And in Syria, another day of fierce clashes and government bombardment was reported in the suburbs of Damascus as government troops battled rebels intent on cutting off the capital and its international airport.
December 7, 2012 |
As concerns mount that Syrian President Bashar Assad could unleash chemical weapons against his opponents, the Kremlin appears to be recalibrating its support for a desperate ally. Russia three times has wielded its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to shield Assad from international condemnation for brutality against Syrians fighting for his ouster, a 21-month-old siege that by some accounts has taken 40,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million. Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled the first step back from ardent defense of Assad after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week.
December 2, 2012 |
MOSCOW - Curious schoolchildren are passing through the deserted cobblestone streets of a late 19th century quarter in the middle of the city when they stop, transfixed by a menacing-looking Nazi tank sitting round the corner as if in ambush. Unlike their moms, dads and grandparents who couldn't even dream of it, the young visitors are privileged to tread the grounds of what used to be the dream factory of the U.S.S.R., the gem of its foray into the motion picture, which the founder of the vanished empire, Vladimir Lenin, once called the most important of all arts for its immense propaganda potential.
November 11, 2012 |
MOSCOW - Unique not only in its high-tech content but also in its political importance, a museum of Jewish history and culture opened to the public Sunday in Moscow, the capital of a nation beset by anti-Semitism for more than two centuries. Several hundred visitors filed into the more than 90,000-square-foot former bus garage and found themselves immersed in a lesson in tolerance. "The opening of such a museum in Moscow is a qualitatively new stage of Jewish life in Russia," said Alexander Boroda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia.
September 16, 2012 |
MOSCOW - The opposition had trumpeted the protest Saturday as the "March of Millions," and the authorities were ready, deploying thousands of riot police in full gear all around the center of Moscow, blocking key streets with heavy trucks and sending police helicopters hovering back and forth. But as night fell, only 20,000 people at most had shown up for a litany of somewhat listless chants, speeches and songs against President Vladimir Putin, before going home past endless lines of riot police visibly bored for lack of action.
August 22, 2012
Although dramatically less oppressive than the old Soviet Union, post-communist Russia is far from a model of civil rights. That reality was underlined most recently by the shocking two-year prison sentences imposed on three performance artists who offered a "punk prayer" critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral. The Obama administration rightly has denounced the disproportionate punishment meted out to three members of the feminist band Pussy Riot and has urged Russian authorities to review the case.