KHUJAND, Tajikistan, April 1 (RIA Novosti) - A scenario similar to the Arab Spring has unfolded in crisis-hit Ukraine during and after the events leading up to the ouster of the country's president in February, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.
"With great sorrow, I noted that a scenario similar to the Arab Spring was used in that country," Shoigu said during a meeting with the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The Arab world was gripped by a wave of revolutions in late 2010 in what became known as the Arab Spring. Regimes were overthrown in Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Egypt; Bahrain and Syria were engulfed in internal armed conflicts; and a number of countries, including Algeria, Kuwait and Morocco, saw major protests.
The Arab Spring revolutions were initially triggered by economic problems and the public's fatigue of the corruption of ruling authoritarian elites. But the energy of protestors was eventually funneled to new purposes by extremists, resulting in no major advancement of democratic causes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in September that events in Egypt and Libya showed that "there are countries and whole regions of the world which cannot live according to the pattern of US or European democracy."
Commenting on events in Ukraine, where the new government seized power in February as a result of an illegitimate coup, Shoigu said Russia is posing no threat to Ukraine's statehood.
"The threat to Ukraine's statehood is in a deep domestic political and economic crisis and does not come from Russia," he said adding that "the games by the leadership in Kiev with neo-Nazis and the expansion of Russophobic tendencies may turn into a tragedy not only for Ukraine, but also for all of Europe."
Shoigu said a troubling situation is now brewing in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, where "nationalists are attempting to suppress the Russian-speaking population, including by the use of force."
Russia has consistently warned that the new government in Ukraine has a dangerous fascist element of Ukrainian ultranationalism, leading Moscow to take steps to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.