Putin: Russia no defender of Syrian president

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2012 12:07 PM
Putin: Russia no defender of Syrian president

BRUSSELS (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin met Tuesday with European leaders in Brussels to discuss energy, Syria and human rights, but reached no agreements — as officials on both sides had predicted in advance.

Putin said after Friday's meeting that Russia isn't a defender of Syrian President Bashar Assad and wants to see a democratically elected government. But he maintained his stance that peace can only be achieved through an agreement that would ensure the protection of various religious and ethnic groups in Syria.

His primary concern was energy market regulations, which Moscow has described as discriminatory against Russia's state-controlled Gazprom gas company. EU officials have warned Gazprom that must allow third-party gas producers to use the prospective South Stream pipeline to comply with its new regulations.

EU leaders said after the meeting that they had also discussed human rights in Russia.

Outside the European Council building in Brussels on Friday morning, journalists saw four topless anti-Putin female demonstrators, apparently members of the feminist protest group Femen, wrestled to the ground by police and taken away.

Brussels police did not immediately confirm the arrests.