Russia urges Egypt to hold fair elections

Tuesday 09-07-2013 02:09 PM
Russia urges Egypt to hold fair elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Mursi attend a news conference after talks in Sochi, April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Pool


MOSCOW, July 9 (Reuters) - Egypt should strive for a peaceful transition of power in fair elections, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, underlining Moscow's concerns about the risk of more unrest after the ousting of President Mohammed Mursi.

Last week's military overthrow of Mursi has already triggered fighting between his supporters and opponents across Egypt, and raised fears members of his Muslim Brotherhood group could be driven into more radical organisations.

Russia, which sells grain to Egypt and is trying to build up its influence in the Middle East, is wary of political Islam as it struggles to quell an Islamist insurgency on its own soil.

"We support any efforts aimed at ending any manifestations of violence and confrontation, that are aimed at stabilising the situation," Lavrov said when asked about Egypt at a news conference.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said over the weekend he feared Egypt could drift into civil war.

Russia has regularly expressed concern about the consequences of the Arab Spring revolts, and has give crucial backing to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the uprising against his rule.

Russia's Supreme Court in 2003 banned Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and Moscow has in the past accused the group of supporting rebels who want to create an Islamist state in Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus.

Egypt's interim rulers issued a faster than expected timetable for elections overnight to try to drag the country out of crisis, after 51 people were killed when troops fired on a crowd supporting Mursi on Monday. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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