Russia’s Iran stance by mattsteinglass
June 16, 2009, 11:44 am
Filed under: Iran, Russia

The fact that Pravda and RIA-Novosti these days are not as tightly censored as they once were makes them paradoxically less valuable, in some cases, as sources of information: you still can’t entirely trust their information, but you can’t take what they print as revealing the underlying stances of the Russian government either. Still, it’s interesting to watch the Russian press’s Iran reporting to try and glean some information on Russian attitudes. Here’s how RIA-Novosti reported the news today that Ahmadinejad is traveling to Yekaterinburg for the Shanghai Cooperation summit:

Russia is completing the construction of Iran’s first nuclear power plant and has supplied nuclear fuel for it. The international community suspects Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb under the guise of the civilian program, something that Tehran denies.

Tehran and other Iranian cities were swept by mass protests at the weekend over alleged vote fraud in the landslide reelection of the hardline president.

Thousands of supporters for Ahmadinejad’s reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi gathered on the streets of Tehran on Saturday. The demonstrations turned violent later, with rioters burning police motorcycles and smashing shop windows.

Mousavi has challenged the results and his accusations of vote rigging will be examined by the Guardian Council, a top clerical body with wide responsibility for electoral issues.

That’s pretty straight-up. No slant on which side is correct in the election dispute, and a pretty concerned treatment of the Iranian nuclear program. If Ahmadinejad is counting on turning to the world’s coalition of autocracies for support — China, Russia, etc. — he’s probably in trouble. One thing about autocratic regimes: they’ll wink at the abuses of their autocratic-regime friends as long as those regimes are firmly in power. But once you start to slip, they’ll pretend they never knew you.

Add.: On second read, the Russian story entirely blames the violence on the demonstrators, not the police or Basij militia. So in that sense it’s pretty slanted pro-Ahmadinejad. But that may just indicate a general authoritarian reluctance ever to accuse police of violence against citizens, rather than a specific preference in the Iran conflict.


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