Mideast unrest could spark 'trouble' in Russia: minister

2nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Political protests sweeping North Africa and the Middle East could make it harder for Russia to battle Islamic insurgents, Russia's top diplomat warned Wednesday.

"The greater the instability in the Middle East, the greater the threat that people with unseemly aims will cause us trouble," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the Echo of Moscow radio station.

Russia is "thinking directly about how it affects Central Asia, the Southern Caucasus and the North Caucasus," he added.

The instability would also affect Russia's cooperation with Middle Eastern countries in preventing the infiltration of drug traffickers and "terrorist groups" via Afghanistan, Lavrov said.

"Whoever comes to power in these countries, even if it is not radical Islamists, all the same stability will be interrupted and ... people who want to continue their unseemly business will find it easier to operate," he said.

A wave of unrest and protests prompted by anger at authoritarian Arab regimes has raged from Algeria to Yemen and has already toppled the strongmen presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.

© 2011 AFP

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