MOSCOW – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday predicted decades of instability in the Arab world if protesters whom he called fanatics come to power, adding no such scenario will be permitted at home.
Medvedev's words fall in sharp contrast with the European Union, which said in a statement on Monday that it "deplores the violence" and "repression" against the pro-democracy protesters by authorities in one of the troublespots, Libya.
Speaking at a security meeting in the Caucasus city of Vladikavkaz, Medvedev didn't name countries, but he was referring to the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa — which has brought down governments in Tunisia and Egypt and sparked protests in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Morocco and Jordan.
"These states are difficult, and it is quite probable that hard times are ahead, including the arrival at power of fanatics. This will mean fires for decades and the spread of extremism," Medvedev said in televised comments.
Any attempts to repeat the unrest in Russia would be quashed, he said.
"They have prepared such a scenario for us before, and now more than ever they will try and realize it. In any case, this scenario won't succeed," he said, without identifying the people he considers could threaten the Kremlin.
Russia has crushed Islamist separatists in two wars in Chechnya in the last 15 years, and continues to battle a lingering insurgency in the wider Caucasus region. The region is the epicenter of terrorism in Russia, with most of the high-profile attacks in recent years claimed by or attributed to Caucasus rebels.
In the past Medvedev also has warned domestic political opponents that they won't be permitted to "rock the boat," and he has continued the policy of his tough predecessor, Vladimir Putin, in sanctioning the violent dispersal of anti-government protests.
Opposition activists have been beaten and imprisoned under their rule. Putin, who wields greater power despite holding lower rank, warned demonstrators in a September newspaper interview that "you will be beaten upside the head with a truncheon. And that's it."