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Russia Concerned over Mideast Uprisings

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TEHRAN, March 27 (ICANA) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed concern regarding the recent political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Sunday, March 27, 2011 10:37:50 AM
Russia Concerned over Mideast Uprisings

“The Russian side expressed concern over the sharp jump in tensions in the region," a statement read published on the Kremlin's website after Medvedev met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal.

During the Friday meeting, Prince Faisal expressed hope that the two countries would maintain close political ties in the face of recent events, Reuters reported.

Riyadh has been criticized recently for brutally cracking down on protesters inside Saudi Arabia as well as in neighboring Bahrain.

Moreover, the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society has recently called for an investigation into allegations of torture of up to 100 detainees arrested during protests.

The mostly Shia protesters in Saudi Arabia are demanding political reforms and the release of political prisoners. They also denounce Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Bahrain, calling for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from the country.

Saudi Arabia deployed about 1,000 troops in Bahrain to help the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy crack down on anti-government protesters, who happen to be Shias.

Speaking of the troops, Prince Saud "explained that this action was taken at the request of the legitimate Bahrain leadership," the Kremlin statement said.

Last week the Saudi king announced the decision to hold the second round of municipal elections, which has been delayed for two years, next month.

He also allotted USD 136 billion to tackle unemployment and housing problems and ordered the establishment of an anti-corruption body.

However, activists say the state should take up real political reforms including an elected parliament with legislative powers, public freedoms and true independence for the judiciary.

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