Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared that the Western forces taking part in the military operation in Libya are not entitled to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi, as doing so is against international law.
The Russian premier noted that UN Security Council resolution 1973 allowed for enforcing a no-fly zone over the North African state. But the coalition forces are “bombing palaces” every night.
“Are they exterminating mice this way?”, he said, adding that civilians are being killed.
Initially, Putin noted, it was claimed that there was no plan to eliminate the Libyan leader. However, some officials are now saying the opposite, he observed.
“Who allowed them to do so?”, he demanded, speaking at a joint media conference with his Danish counterpart in Copenhagen. “Has there been a court decision? Who has the right to execute a human, no matter how good or bad one is? But everyone keeps silent.”
The Russian premier stressed that the coalition states should act in accordance with international law, while clearly realizing the responsibility they bear, in particular in caring for civilians.
“When the entire so-called ‘civilized’ community, with all its might, [attacks] a small country, eliminates its infrastructure…I do not know whether it is good or not. But I do not like it,” he said.
Putin also noted that there are many countries where the situation is similar to Libya – countries that are far from democratic and with internal tensions resulting in violence.
“Should we interfere everywhere? Should we be bombing them, too?” he questioned.
In what has become a tradition now, a journalist at the joint press conference asked about the Russian presidential election in 2012. A Danish reporter asked Putin to comment on Western media suggestions for him to refrain for running for presidency and support Medvedev so that he can keep working on the reforms he has launched.
“Russia’s future presidential candidates do not need any support from abroad. They need support within the country,” was his short and clear response.
On Tuesday, Putin started his two-day Scandinavian tour of Denmark and Sweden. In Copenhagen, the Russian premier met with his Danish counterpart, Lokke Lars Rasmussen, to discuss bilateral economic and trade cooperation between the countries as well as issues related to prospects for joint development of energy resources in the northern seas and problems in the Arctic region.
Speaking at the meeting, Putin noted that he was very glad that "we have managed to make our contribution in the development of the relations between our countries that have been developing for centuries," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying. "We succeeded in doing much recently," he said, adding that about 200 Danish companies operate in Russia, while Russian businesses are entering the Danish economy.
According to Rasmussen, Putin’s first formal visit to the Scandinavian kingdom is evidence of the development of bilateral ties. He expressed hope that this trend will continue.
"It shows that our relations are moving forward and heading toward growth," the Danish prime minister said. "I attach very great importance to this fact."
The meeting was followed by the signing of more than 10 deals, including ones on cooperation in the energy sector and a 200 -million euro agreement on technological and project cooperation in the modernization of the Pikalevo industrial complex located south of St. Petersburg. Pikalevo is one of the so-called “mono-towns” which depend on a single industry. In 2009, the closure of the town’s aluminum factory resulted in the bulk of residents losing their jobs.
The Russian prime minister is being accompanied on his trip by a group of high-ranking officials, including Vice Premier Sergey Ivanov, Transport Minister Igor Levitin, Gazprom chief Aleksey Miller and others.
Later, Putin is expected to visit the headquarters of Danish oil and shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk to meet with the company’s leadership.
According to the deputy head of the Russian government staff, Yury Ushakov, Putin will also “be received by Queen Margrethe II and attend an official dinner to be joined by Danish business people," according to Itar-Tass. The official added that after the dinner, Putin will also meet with top Danish business executives in an informal setting.
After the visit to Copenhagen, the prime minister will fly out to Stockholm, where he will meet with his opposite number, Fredrik Reinfeldt, and be received by King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden.