West pushing democracy with ‘iron and blood’, says Russian FM

Updated 01 December 2012
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West pushing democracy with ‘iron and blood’, says Russian FM

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western states yesterday of trying to advance democracy abroad through “iron and blood,” defending Moscow’s refusal to join nations seeking the exit of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Echoing comments made by Vladimir Putin, Lavrov made his sharply worded address to a foreign and defense policy council meeting two days before the Russian president travels to Turkey where the war in Syria is expected to dominate talks.
“Russia is not opposing Western influence or putting a stick in the spokes of Western-initiated projects out of spite,” Lavrov said, according to state-run news agency Itar-Tass.
“The fact is, advancing democracy through iron and blood just does not work, and this has been made clear in recent months — the past year-and-a-half,” he said. He added “in most cases it produces the opposite reaction” and leads to “the strengthening of extremists and repressive forces, decreasing the chances of real democratic change.” Moscow says Western and Gulf states are encouraging rebels seeking the overthrow of Assad while the United States and Europe accuse the Kremlin of shielding the Syrian president during 20 months of bloodshed.
Russia says Assad’s exit from power cannot be imposed from abroad and has voiced concern extremists could gain the upper hand in Syria and other states following Arab Spring revolts, further destabilizing the region.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, in a meeting with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, said the situation has been worsened by a “sharp increase in the activities of terrorist organizations” including Al-Qaeda.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Gatilov also repeated Russia’s concern the conflict “is taking on a clearly expressed inter-religious element.”



Russia has denied it is propping up Assad but says it will not allow a repeat of what occurred last year in Libya.



It says NATO overstepped the bounds of a UN Security Council mandate for intervention to protect civilians in its determination to help rebels oust Muammar Qaddafi.


German police arrest pair with 130 pounds of stolen chocolate

Updated 12 min 9 sec ago
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German police arrest pair with 130 pounds of stolen chocolate

BERLIN: Two people are under investigation in Germany after being caught in possession of some 60 kilograms (130 pounds) of stolen chocolate.
Braunschweig police said Thursday a 35-year-old woman was nabbed by an alert cashier at a supermarket on Tuesday as she checked out only a few items but had 9 kilograms (about 20 pounds) of purloined chocolate concealed under her floor-length skirt.
Upon further investigation, police found another 50 kilograms of chocolate bars, boxes of chocolates and other confectionery stashed in five bags with her 39-year-old accomplice in a car outside.
Police say “even for those with a high affinity for chocolate the amount of candy found could not be considered for personal use.” The two are under investigation for commercial shoplifting.
Officers have confiscated the sweets.