"Corpse" Gaddafi should step down: Kremlin source

MOSCOW Tue Mar 1, 2011 11:29am EST

ABC NEWS' Christiane Amanpour meets Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi for an interview in Tripoli on February 28, 2011 in this image released to Reuters on Monday. REUTERS/ABC NEWS/Handout

ABC NEWS' Christiane Amanpour meets Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi for an interview in Tripoli on February 28, 2011 in this image released to Reuters on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/ABC NEWS/Handout

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Kremlin source called Muammar Gaddafi a "living political corpse" and said on Tuesday the Libyan leader should step down.

Russia rarely criticizes authoritarian leaders, but President Dmitry Medvedev last week condemned Gaddafi's use of violence against protesters calling for his overthrow and said continued bloodshed would be a crime under international law.

The Kremlin source told reporters it was time for Gaddafi to step down, calling him "a living political corpse who has no place in the modern civilized world."

Moscow supported a U.N. Security Council resolution on Saturday calling for an arms embargo and other sanctions. Russia currently has around $2 billion in defense contracts with Libya, the Interfax news agency previously cited a source as saying.

In Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on world powers to fully implement the resolution, which also includes a freeze on Gaddafi's assets, travel ban and referral of his crackdown to the International Criminal Court.

"We need to concentrate on the full, comprehensive implementation of that resolution and we hope that the Libyan leadership will listen to the voice of the international community which rang out in unison yet again," Lavrov said.

There have been no formal proposals so far to impose a no-fly zone on Libya, according to Lavrov. Any proposals would have to be brought to the Security Council, he said, but he did not indicate how Russia would react.

Interfax cited an unidentified Kremlin source as saying Russia could support a no-fly zone.

But Russia has warned against military intervention. Mikhail Margelov, a leading Kremlin-allied lawmaker, said U.S. military action in Libya could "kill the shoots of democracy in the region," Itar-Tass news agency reported.

(Additional reporting by Alexei Anishchuk in Elista, Russia, and Stephanie Nebehay and Jonathan Lynn in Geneva; editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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