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Russia criticises Assad for ‘big delay’ in reforms

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday criticised President Bashar al-Assad for the “big delay” in reform in Syria, saying Damascus was failing to swiftly follow Moscow’s advice.

“Unfortunately, our advice is reflected practically in his actions far from all the time and far from in a timely manner,” Lavrov told the lower house parliament in a rare show of public frustration with the Syrian leader.

“Yes he has adopted useful laws to renew the system — to make it more pluralistic than the one-party system that existed there — but with a big delay.

“The suggestion to start (national) dialogue is also being made with a delay. Meanwhile the armed resistance is gaining its own dynamic and this inertia can end up engulfing everyone,” Lavrov warned.

Western powers have been urging Russia to use its influence with the Assad regime to persuade it to end a deadly crackdown on protestors. The West has also repeatedly accused Moscow of being too soft on Damascus.

However Lavrov insisted that Russia was doing all it could to resolve the situation and acknowledged that Moscow had the ability to influence the Damascus regime.

“The side in the conflict in Syria on which we have influence is the government of Bashar al-Assad,” he said in the hearing at the State Duma.

“We are undertaking measures but the main thing is that those measures are received with understanding,” he added.