Russia rebukes German minister for visit to Kiev protest camp
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday called participation by foreign officials in the political events unfolding in Ukraine "interference", rebuking the German foreign minister for a visit to an opposition protest camp.
In a televised interview, Medvedev said it was fine for foreign officials to meet Ukrainian opposition leaders "but to participate in such events has, excuse me, a very simple name: interference in internal affairs."
On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle walked with opposition leaders through an encampment on Kiev's Independence Square, the focus of protests over the government's U-turn away from the European Union and toward Russia.
"To speak to the leadership and the opposition is fine - absolutely normal," Medvedev said. "But they go right into the heart of political events, to an event that is conducted in contradiction of the existing rules governing demonstrations."
"I wonder how our German partners would feel if the Russian foreign minister went into some mob that was (gathered) in contradiction of Germany's rules," he said. "I don't think they would see this as a friendly step or a correct one."
Kiev's November 21 decision to abandon a trade and integration deal with the EU and pursue closer economic ties with Moscow brought out hundreds of thousands of protesters over the weekend. Demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets despite a police threat to enforce an order to disperse.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Douglas Busvine)