Vote for Putin: pro-Assad Syrians tell Russians

AFP , Sunday 4 Mar 2012

Pro-Bashar al-Assad regime hold a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Damascus to urge the Russian living in Syria to vote for Vladimir Putin

A group of Syrians gathered Sunday in front of the Russian embassy in Damascus to thank Moscow's support for the regime and urged Russians to vote for Vladimir Putin in Russia's polls.

"We came to give moral support to the Russians in these elections. We wish Prime Minister Vladimir Putin" to be the next president, state television quoted a member of the group as saying.

"We also thank the current President (Dmitry) Medvedev for supporting the Syrian people," said the pro=Russia supporters shown on television surrounded by young men carrying the Russian flag and pictures of Putin.

Russia, a longtime ally of Syria and to which it supplies weapons, has twice vetoed along with China UN Security Council Resolutions condemning the deadly repression of Syrian protesters by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad

"You have of course come here spontaneously. What does Russia mean to you?," the state television reporters asked the group.

"Of course we have to thank Russia for its stance and support candidate Putin as president. I hope he will win because he stood alongside the leaders and people of Syria," one woman said.

"We thank Russia with all our heart for having stood alongside us during this challenge, while all the Arabs abandoned us," she said, referring to Arab League criticism of Syria's repression.

A Russian diplomat interviewed by the television reporter expressed gratitude toward the Syrian people.

"We salute the Syrian people and we thank them for this support. I would like to say that Russia stands by its principle which is to reject violence from wherever it comes and attempts by some to interfere in Syrian affairs," he said, speaking in Arabic.

Russia is voting Sunday in elections expected to see strongman Putin retake the presidency.

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