Libyan Muslims are seen through a Kingdom of Libya flag during Eidul Fitr prayers at Green Square in Tripoli, August 31, 2011. — Photo by Reuters

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday officially recognised Libya's rebels as the governing authority in the country, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Russian Federation recognises Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) as the ruling authority and notes its reform programme that includes the development of a new constitution, holding general elections and forming the government,” it said.

“Our country has established and continued diplomatic relations with Libya since September 4, 1955 without a break, no matter what government holds power in Tripoli,” it said.

“We act on the premise that the agreements and other mutual obligations formerly reached between Russia and Libya remain in effect in the relationship between the two countries and will be honoured.”

Russia's recognition of the interim NTC comes well after similar moves by the United States and a dozen other countries. It also comes on the same day as France hosts a “friends of Libya” conference in Paris to help Libya rebuild.

Moscow abstained from the UN resolution on a no fly zone in Libya, effectively allowing the Western military action against the regime of Muammar Qadhafi to go ahead.

But it then appeared increasingly disgruntled with the magnitude of the campaign and repeatedly angrily accused the West of siding with the rebels in a civil war.

However analysts have warned its companies now risk losing billions of dollars in arms and energy contracts in the new Libya after the rebels said they would favour those states who offered them full support in the conflict.

Russia announced the day earlier that President Dmitry Medvedev's envoy for Africa Mikhail Margelov will attend the conference in Paris, after the foreign ministry last week denied ever having received an invitation.

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