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      Moscow Criticizes Assad for Announcing Election Hopes for 2014

      Regime's Russian ally issues rare criticism of embattled Syrian president over announcements of his intent to re-run for office.
      By Ari Soffer
      First Publish: 12/19/2013, 11:28 AM

      President Bashar al-Assad
      President Bashar al-Assad
      AFP photo

      Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov leveled a rare statement of criticism against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

      Bogdanov was reacting to unspecified statements by Assad - whose embattled regime has been staunchly backed by Moscow since the start of the uprising against it in 2011 - in which the Syrian dictator expressed his intention to re-run for president in 2014.

      In an interview with Interfax news agency, the deputy defense minister criticized the statements, saying they hampered efforts to facilitate upcoming peace talks in Geneva.

      "Exchanging such rhetorical statements just makes the atmosphere heavier and does not make the situation calmer," he said. "We believe that ahead of the peace talks there should be no statements which someone may not like and can cause emotions and a reaction in response."

      The various Syrian opposition factions have all stated their opposition to any peace deal which would allow Assad to remain in power, even during a transitional period leading up to general elections. Although it was unclear which precise statement Bogdanov was reacting to, Assad has expressed his intention to run for office again on numerous occasions.

      Speaking to Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen TV in October, Assad said he didn't "see any reason why I shouldn't run in the next election."