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    Russia condemns acts fanning interethnic strife - Putin

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    MADRID, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia condemns anything leading to the instigation of interethnic strife, the Russian president said Thursday.

    Responding to a question about the Prophet Mohammed cartoon row, Vladimir Putin told journalists in Spain: "There are more than 15 million Muslims in Russia and I want to say on behalf of the Russian leadership that we denounce any manifestations leading to the fanning of interethnic strife."

    Putin urged the leaders of the Muslim countries and organizations that had confronted violence in the past few days to take the situation under control as soon as possible.

    "We call on the leaders of Muslim organizations and Muslim countries that have encountered violence in the last few days to take the situation under control as soon as possible, to exclude any violence and contribute to a dialogue of peace between faiths," Putin said.

    Putin added that Russia supported a joint initiative put forward by the Spanish and Turkish prime ministers to create an alliance of civilizations to strengthen dialogue between the Christian West and the Muslim East.

    The cartoons were originally published in a Danish newspaper in September but have subsequently been reprinted in several other countries this year, as editors have sought to protect press freedom against protests from Muslim groups. However, the republication has provoked protests throughout the Muslim world, which led to the Danish Embassy in Lebanon being ransacked on Monday.

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