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Russia: Duma Assails Iraq Coalition Over Diplomat Deaths

One Russian Embassy worker was killed when the other four were abducted on June 3 (epa) PRAGUE, June 28, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian State Duma today approved a statement criticizing "occupying countries" in Iraq for failing to prevent the abduction and murder of four Russian diplomats there. The move came a day after Russia distributed a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning the killings.

The statement, which received unanimous backing in Russia's lower house of parliament, is a strongly worded and thinly veiled criticism of the United States.

The statement, which was passed by a vote of 425 to zero, "deplores" the gruesome deaths of the four diplomats and expresses "profound indignation over the fact of their brutal murder and strongly denounces the criminals, who committed that heinous crime."

It goes on to say that the abduction and murders of the four Russian diplomats is partially the result of the "deepening crisis in Iraq, while the occupying countries are losing control over the situation, and terror and violence are becoming the order of the day in that country."

The statement also demands that Iraqi authorities and foreign forces conduct a thorough investigation into the killings.

Blaming U.S. For Lack Of Security

During floor debate, lawmaker Igor Barinov, a member of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, assailed coalition forces.

"Occupation troops should share the blame, together with the killers," he said. "They have failed to find weapons of mass destruction, they do not control the situation today in Iraq, when our diplomats are kidnapped 400 meters from the diplomatic mission and killed."

First Deputy Duma Speaker Oleg Morozov expressed similar sentiments in remarks to reporters after the statement's passage.

"There is an obvious social, economic, and political crisis in Iraq," he said. "Nobody is protected, the authorities are helpless, occupation troops are incapable of ensuring either their own security or the security of Iraqis or foreign citizens."

Kidnappers Demanded Chechnya Pullout

Militants from the Mujahedin Shura Council, an Iraqi-based group linked to Al-Qaeda, abducted the four employees of the Russian Embassy in Baghdad on June 3. The kidnappers demanded that the Kremlin pull its troops out of the breakaway province of Chechnya.

The group on June 24 posted an video on the Internet showing the killing of three of four Russian diplomats. A statement from the militant group said the fourth also was slain and Russia's Foreign Ministry later confirmed their deaths.

Despite the harsh rhetoric in the Duma's statement, the Russian UN Ambassador Konstantin Dolgov said on June 27 that the draft UN Security Council resolution would avoid references to the responsibility of coalition forces.

Russian officials say they expect the Security Council to discuss the draft resolution today.

(with agency reports)

Iraq In Transition

Iraq In Transition

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