Russia "concerned" by Saudi oppression
Published Sunday, July 15, 2012
Russia has said it is concerned over Saudi oppression of pro-democracy protests in its Eastern Province, sparking a fierce rebuke from the authoritarian state.
Russian Human Rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov expressed "great concern" about the situation in eastern Saudi Arabia following what he described as clashes between law enforcement officers and peaceful demonstrators in which at least two people have been killed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry website quoted Dolgov as saying that people in the Eastern Province were protesting "against the existing, according to their opinion, impairment of the rights of the Shia community on the part of the authorities of the Kingdom."
Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov met with the Saudi ambassador in Moscow on Thursday, but it is not clear if the concerns were raised.
Saudi Arabia condemned the comments as "hostile" and an unjustified interference in the kingdom's internal affairs, the Saudi state news agency (SPA) reported.
"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 added that the government of Saudi Arabia believed such comments were "hostile."
A man was shot dead in the Eastern Province on Saturday, the latest casualty of the crackdown on ongoing protests.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive dictatorships in the world, and the Shia minority often complain of discrimination in the mainly Sunni conservative kingdom.