DUBAI, July 15 Saudi Arabia on Saturday
condemned comments by Russia's human rights envoy on the
situation in the kingdom as "hostile" and an unjustified
interference in the kingdom's internal affairs, the Saudi state
news agency (SPA) reported.
The rare public exchange appeared to reflect tensions over
the 16-month-old uprising in Syria where Russia has resisted
introduction of Western- and Arab-backed sanction against
President Bashar al-Assad.
Russian Human Rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov had expressed
"great concern" about the situation in eastern Saudi Arabia
following what he described as clashes between law enforcement
and peaceful demonstrators in which two people were killed and
more than 20 were wounded, according to the Russian Foreign
The Saudi interior ministry has said there were no clashes
but that two people were killed by unknown assailants last
Sunday in the east, where the country's minority Muslim Shi'ite
population is concentrated.
"The Kingdom learned with strong astonishment and surprise
about the comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry's
representative on human rights which represents a blatant and
unjustified intervention ... in the internal affairs of the
kingdom," SPA quoted a Foreign Ministry statement, attributed to
an "official source", as saying.
The agency said the government of Saudi Arabia condemned
such comments as "hostile".
"The kingdom hopes that this strange comment was not intended
to divert attention from the savage and ugly massacres that the
Syrian regime is practising against its own people with support
and backing from known parties that are obstructing any honest
effort to end the bloodshed of the Syrian people."
Russia has blocked two U.N. Security Council moves to press
Assad to end his crackdown. Saudi Arabia has been in the
forefront of Arab countries backing the rebels.
Dolgov had said that people in the Eastern Province of Saudi
Arabia were protesting "against the existing, according to their
opinion, impairment of the rights of the Shi'ite community on
the part of the authorities of the Kingdom".
Saudi Arabia had said that minor protests had taken place
after the arrest of a cleric on charges of sedition, and after
he and a group with him opened fire on police.
It said that two men who had been killed were shot dead by
unknown assailants and an investigation into who killed them was