Assad 'not ready to resign': Russian MP

Published February 24, 2012

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.—AFP Photo

MOSCOW: Bashar al-Assad is not ready to resign and claims to feel strong support despite 11 months of deadly protests, a top Russian lawmaker who met the Syrian president in Damascus this week said Friday.

“I met Assad and did not get the impression that this is a person who is ready to leave power tomorrow,” Alexei Pushkov, the head of the international affairs committee of the State Duma lower house, told reporters.

“The protest movement exists, but it is not such that the president would feel everything crumbling around him -- that everything is falling apart and he needs to resign,” Pushkov said.

Assad's ouster “is an absolutely artificial and far-fetched issue,” he said, adding that he talked to the Syrian strongman for more than an hour.

This week's four-day visit by Pushkov, a member of the ruling United Russia party and former television commentator, came after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew to Damascus for talks with Assad earlier in the month.

Lavrov secured a pledge to halt violence and quickly hold a constitutional referendum, and idea dismissed by the US State Department as “quite laughable”.

Russia has come under strong condemnation for blocking together with China a UN Security Council draft resolution condemning Moscow's Soviet-era ally for the violence.

It has refused to support calls for Assad to resign and instead repeatedly called for the start of dialogue that the opposition says is impossible amid the bloodshed.

Pushkov said Assad's support in the capital was particularly strong.

“You can sense tensions (in Damascus), but there is no sense that the city is on the verge of a civil war,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there are demonstrations with some casualties, but the stores are open and everything stays open until late. ... Everyday life looks normal.”

Opinion

Editorial

System imbalance
29 Jun, 2022

System imbalance

SAGGING under the weight of internal weaknesses, the political system once again seems to be wobbling towards...
BRICS exclusion
29 Jun, 2022

BRICS exclusion

FOR Pakistan’s sustained economic progress, it is essential for the country to maintain strong linkages with...
Covid resurgence
29 Jun, 2022

Covid resurgence

PAKISTAN is facing yet another wave of Covid-19 infections, with health experts predicting a surge in...
Sindh LG poll mess
Updated 28 Jun, 2022

Sindh LG poll mess

The ECP and the Sindh government share the blame for the electoral mismanagement witnessed on Sunday.
State apathy
28 Jun, 2022

State apathy

The minister would do well to revisit his stance before further damage is done to the fight for civil rights.
Lofty but fragile
28 Jun, 2022

Lofty but fragile

PAKISTAN is set for its busiest mountaineering season in over a decade, with over 1,400 climbers from across the...