Russia has said that Saudi Arabia has the right to reject Canada’s interference and to express its annoyance at the “commanding tone” coming from a perceived position of moral superiority.
The first official Russian comment on the Saudi-Canadian dispute came from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which confirmed Moscow’s refusal to politicize human rights issues, noting that Saudi Arabia has the right to determine the course of its own internal reforms.
In a statement posted on the ministry’s website, Maria Zakharova, Director of Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said: “We strongly and firmly support the promotion of universal human rights, with the necessity of keeping in mind national characteristics and traditions of countries, which have crystallized over a long period of time.”
Politicize human rights
“Russia has refused and continues to refuse any attempt to politicize human rights issues,” she said.
She said: “We believe that Saudi Arabia, which has taken the path of massive social and economic transformations, has a full sovereign right to determine how to move forward in this important area. These issues may require constructive advice and assistance, but it should not come from a commanding tone coming from an alleged moral superiority.”
The Canadian embassy in Riyadh called on the Saudi authorities in a tweet post to release a number of civil society activists, which Saudi Arabia considered an interference in its internal affairs. Saudi Arabia responded by reducing the level of diplomatic relations and stopping cooperation with Ottawa in several fields, most notably trade, education and medicine.