Top Russian lawmaker accuses West of steering revolutions in ex-Soviet nations

A senior Russian lawmaker on Thursday accused the West of being the driving force behind popular uprisings that have changed regimes in several ex-Soviet nations and warned that Russia's other allies in the region could face similar developments in the near future.

Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin-connected head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, said that following regime change in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan over the past 1 1/2 years, other ex-Soviet republics could see their governments toppled by public protests engineered from abroad.

While Margelov stopped short of directly accusing the United States and other Western nations of staging the uprisings that overthrew the governments in the ex-Soviet nations, he made it clear that in his view the West was a driving force behind the developments.

"After the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, the U.S. president referred to Ukraine as an example of the struggle for freedom," Margelov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

"Therefore, the U.S. administration has recognized the "velvet revolution" methods as effective, so one can expect the U.S. and European countries to step up their revolutionary activity in CIS countries,"

Margelov was apparently referring to the Czech 1989 "Velvet Revolution" that served as a model for later peaceful uprisings that swept away repressive regimes in other Soviet allies and ex-Soviet republics.

The Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, is a Moscow-led body that groups 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics.

Margelov said that Kazakhstan and other ex-Soviet nations in Central Asia were the most likely targets for U.S. efforts to change their regimes, Interfax said.

Margelov's statement follows similar claims by other Russian lawmakers and pro-Kremlin political strategists who have accused the West of staging public protests that ushered the opposition into power in Georgia in 2003, in Ukraine and in Kyrgyzstan last month - claims they have denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of trying to force its vision of democracy on the former Soviet Union, adding he was concerned that those who resist "will be punished with a truncheon made of bombs and missiles, as it was in Belgrade" - a reference to the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

Margelov said that political elites of the ex-Soviet nations were eager to come into the Western fold. "The heads of CIS countries, aware that rivalry between Russia and the United States over this space is objective, are profiting from their geopolitical situation," he said.

Associated Press

On the photo: Mikhail Margelov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Federation Council

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