Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi is a "living political corpse" who has no place in the civilised world and must quit power, the Interfax news agency quoted a Kremlin source as saying today.
"We believe that even if Gaddafi now manages to dig himself in, he is a living political corpse who has no place in the modern civilised world," the source said in Russia's first clear call for the Libyan leader to quit.
The source, who was not identified, also moved to explain Moscow's apparently sluggish response to the violence used by the Libyan authorities against demonstrators demanding the ousting of Gaddafi. President Dmitry Medvedev "right from the start reacted negatively to recent actions of the Libyan authorities" but only spoke out once Russian citizens had been evacuated, the source said.
"This is the only reason. An announcement came just after we succeeded in evacuating most of our citizens from Libya," the source added. Russia at the weekend joined other UN Security Council powers in backing sanctions against Libya and officials in recent days had been emphasising that the Libyan regime's use of force against citizens was unacceptable. But until now the Kremlin had failed to echo Western calls for Gaddafito step down with some officials instead giving the impression Russia was more concerned about the fate of multi-billion dollar arms contracts. Russia could lose almost USD 4.0 billion (2.9 billion euros) in arms export contracts to Libya after Moscow backed the UN sanctions, a military source was quoted as saying at the weekend.