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    Russia opposes sanctions against Iran over protest crackdown

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    Russia is opposed to sanctions against Iran over the recent crackdown on protest rallies following the disputed presidential election, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

    MOSCOW, July 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is opposed to sanctions against Iran over the recent crackdown on protest rallies following the disputed presidential election, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

    Russia, which has consistently supported Iran in international disputes, was one of the first countries to congratulate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re-election.

    "We believe that sanctions against Iran over its internal problems would be illegal and counterproductive. They could provoke unwelcome developments in the situation in Iran and the region," ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters.

    He said Moscow was interested in "an early normalization of the situation in Iran through legal means."

    According to official data, Ahmadinejad won the June 12 election with more than 24 million of 40 million ballots cast. The runner-up, Mir Hossein Mousavi, claimed the reelection of the hardline president was marred by numerous irregularities.

    Ahmadinejad's landslide victory triggered a week of protests by Mousavi's supporters. Regional media reports said 20 people were killed in the post-election violence, Iran's most severe unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    A partial recount of the vote showed a slight increase of votes for Ahmadinejad in some cities, and small decreases in other cities. The country's Guardian Council, which oversees elections, said the changes in vote tallies were insignificant.

     

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