Russia Blasts Iranian Remarks on Holocaust, Israel

July 7, 2008 - 7:16 PM

Moscow (CNSNews.com) - Russia spoke out Thursday against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks denying the Holocaust, which came as an embarrassment for Moscow given its deepening ties with Tehran.

"Following statements by President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials on Holocaust and Israel ... we view attempts to review well known historical facts of the Second World War, including those connected with the Holocaust, as unacceptable," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Speculation on these issues contradicts the United Nations Charter and views of the international community," it added.

Russian officials also warned of possible consequences for Iran.

Ahmadinejad's remarks could drive Iran into international isolation, said Mikhail Marguelov, head of the international affairs committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

"The Iranian president's xenophobia discredits the co-sponsors of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including Russia," Marguelov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station Thursday.

"There is a feeling that Iran has taken upon itself the mission of stirring up the Middle East conflict and doing services to all sorts of extremists, and it may lead to the international isolation of Iran," Marguelov said.

Isolation would damage the interests of the Iranian people and hamper the country's economic development "in which Russian firms are actively involved," he added.

Echoing Ahmadinejad's remarks, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Gholamali Haddad-Adel, accused "Zionists," the West and the U.S. of violating freedom of speech in connection with the Holocaust.

Addressing a gathering of Iranian expatriates during a visit to Moscow on Wednesday, he claimed that they "do not even permit anyone to express a single sentence against their claims about the Holocaust during World War II."

During his Dec. 11-13 visit to Russia, Haddad-Adel met with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexeiy II, the head of the National Security Council, Igor Ivanov, and top lawmakers.

The Russian Orthodox Church said Russia and Iran should join efforts to oppose a unilateralist world order, a clear reference to the U.S. role in global affairs.

Haddad-Adel told journalists in Moscow he had discussed Russia's continuing cooperation with the Muslim world.

"I said that Iran would use its influence and promote the interaction process between Russia and the Islamic world both in Russia itself and abroad," Haddad-Adel said.

President Vladimir Putin earlier this week said during a visit to Chechnya that Russia was the Islamic world's most reliable partner.

Moscow has protested before about Tehran's controversial rhetoric.

Earlier this month, Russian special envoy to the Middle East Alexander Kalugin said Ahmadinejad's suggestion that Germany and Austria give up some of their territory to make room for Israel contradicted the international community's perception of Israel as a sovereign state.

"The proposal is unacceptable," Kalugin said.

Moscow and Tehran have drawn closer together economically in recent years, and Russia is building a controversial nuclear power plant at Bushehr.

Iran is embroiled in a dispute with the international community over a nuclear program it says is designed for power-generation, but the West suspects it is a cover for attempts to build atomic weapons.

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