x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Saudi says Russian remarks over unrest are 'blatant interference'

It accuses Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian foreign ministry's commissioner for human rights, of diverting attention from the "massacres" that were being committed by Syria.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia has hit out at a Russian official for his remarks on unrest in the kingdom's east, saying his comments were a "blatant interference" in its internal affairs.

It accused Konstantin Dolgov, the 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.

Saudi Arabia "noted with strong disapproval" remarks by Mr Dolgov, the kingdom's foreign ministry said in a statement late on Saturday carried by the official news agency SPA.

Mr Dolgov, in a statement published last week on the Russian foreign ministry's website, had expressed "great concerns" over clashes between Saudi police and Shiite protesters in the Qatif district that left two demonstrators dead.

He warned that events in the kingdom will negatively influence "the stability and consent of civil society in Saudi Arabia".

Riyadh responded by saying 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."