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BBC Monitoring
Anti-Americanism not in Russia's interests - former PM
Source: NTV Mir, Moscow, in Russian 0905 gmt 6 Apr 03

Russia should avoid anti-Americanism and confrontation with the United States while continuing to oppose the war in Iraq, according to former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeniy Primakov.

"I believe that we should under no circumstances lapse into anti-Americanism," Primakov, who is currently chairman of the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said during an interview on the political discussion programme "Vliyaniye", broadcast by NTV Mir on 6 April 2003. "This would inflict a great deal of damage on our interests," he added.

However, Primakov said Russia should carry on opposing the war in Iraq, and should prepare for a continuation of the US policy of unilateralism.

"At the same time we need to think about strengthening our military capability and solving our internal issues," he said. "America's actions are pushing us towards this. However, I think these actions won't become standard practice, and the United States will return to a UN role, to a world order which will be built on a collective basis, and not on the basis of unilateral actions by the United States."

Primakov said Russia had an interest in the creation of a multipolar world and an independent-minded Europe as a counterweight to American unilateralism. However, he stressed that Russia should not seek a direct confrontation with the United States.

Primakov also argued that Moscow should insist on strict adherence to the principle of national sovereignty, but admitted that interventions in a state's internal affairs might be justified in reaction to genocide and if sanctioned by a collective decision by the international community.

In addition, the former prime minister stressed that it was still not clear, from Russia's point of view, that unilateralist opinion in the USA was now dominant, adding that he believed America would return to multilateralism. Primakov said the "door was not closed" to a return to collective decision-making through the UN.

He also praised the Russian government's close alliance with the United States after 11 September, arguing that the military operation in Afghanistan helped cut off foreign support for Chechen militants.

Asked about the situation in Iraq, Primakov criticized the US operation in Iraq as lacking any justification, since, he argued, US troops had not obtained the support of the Iraqi population and Saddam Husayn had not used chemical weapons. Regarding the fate of Saddam himself, Primakov, who is regarded as an expert on the Middle East, said he believed that Saddam has no doubles, and that the Iraqi leader would refuse to leave the country.

Questioned about a meeting he had with Saddam in February, Primakov described as "rubbish" rumours that his aim was to persuade the Iraqi leader to hand over sensitive archives important to Russia. Instead, he went to convince the Iraqi leader to cooperate with UN inspectors, he said.

The interview was conducted by Savik Shuster, and its overall duration was 55 minutes. No further processing is planned.

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