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Tunisia unrest ‘substantial lesson’ for all: Medvedev

The Tunisian revolt was a lesson to all governments, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday, expressing hope that unrest would not spread through the Arab world.

“What happened in Tunisia is, I think, quite a substantial lesson to learn for any authorities,” Medvedev said, after his address to the World Economic Forum of business and political leaders in the Swiss resort of Davos.

“No matter what country we are talking about. When the authorities don’t meet the aspirations of the society the outcome is very bad,” he said, when the host asked him what he thought of the Tunisian crisis.

“This is a test of resilience, and I hope that the situation in Tunisia will stabilise and will not have a contagious effect across the Arab world,” he said, amid reports of violent political protests in Egypt.

Medvedev, whose own country has a history of suppressing opposition dissent, said he would not like the Tunisian example to spread through the Arab world and called on leaders to better handle popular unrest.

“It does not matter if what is suggested to the authorities is unacceptable to them. The authorities should engage in dialogue with all types of people, otherwise they will lose real ground,” he said.

“This does not imply they should follow any advice given them, but they should listen to what the people has to say,” he said.

Former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted as president on Tunisia on January 14 after three weeks of street protests by middle-class Tunisians seeking greater political and economic freedom.