Russia bemoans misplaced loyalties after Kadhafi death

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The death of Moamer Kadhafi underscores Moscow's miscalculation at the start of the war in Libya, where it initially backed his regime, the Russian press said on Friday.

Russia now risks losing out in lucrative energy, arms and infrastructure contracts with Libya, where its Gazprom Neft and Tatneft energy giants invested billions before the conflict, wrote Kommersant business daily.

"The first in line to sign contracts with the new authorities will be the countries that took active part in the regime change: Britain, France, the United States, Italy and Qatar," Kommersant predicted.

Moscow abstained from the UN resolution on a no fly-zone in Libya at the outset of the conflict, effectively allowing the Western military action against Kadhafi to go ahead, but called for negotiations.

And it only recognised the rebels as the legitimate rulers of Libya in September, three months after the major Western states.

"The decisions will be taken by those countries thanks to whom the National Transitional Council received power," Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Politics, told the newspaper.

"In the best case scenario, Western companies will invite Russian ones as partners."

The Kremlin's Libya envoy, Mikhail Margelov, who held talks with both Kadhafi loyalists and rebels during the conflict, wrote in Izvestia daily that Russia was holding talks on the future of its existing contracts.

"I can call our dialogue with the current authorities intensive and positive," he said.

He insisted that Kadhafi had "long ago erased himself from the legitimate field," and said that: "Our country has never been and never will be a dictatorship, so we never have supported and never will support such regimes."

President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday flippantly commented on hearing the news of Kadhafi's capture that: "We didn't have anything to do with it."

Before Kadhafi's death was confirmed, he called for the leader's fate to be "decided by the Libyan people."

In ambivalent reactions, members of three opposition parties on Friday called for the lower house of parliament to express official condolences on Kadhafi's death, although the motion was voted out.

"It is just barbarity when a crowd destroys the leader of its state with such bandit methods," said nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

In an editorial, news website drew parallels between Libya's long-serving dictator and Vladimir Putin, who intends returning as president and could stay in power until 2024.

"By denying the possiblity of change, Moamer Kadhafi and his clan carefully nurtured their own gravediggers," wrote.

"Our comrades who measure out an inhumanly long political life for themselves would do well to remember this."

© 2011 AFP

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