MOSCOW, Sept 19, 2012 (AFP)
Russia’s top Communist leader was Wednesday forced to defend hotly controversial remarks on Twitter that the late US envoy to Libya Chris Stevens was “shot like a dog” and got what he deserved.
Gennady Zyuganov, the veteran Communist party chief who is known for anti-American remarks but has frequented the US embassy in Moscow, said Stevens was behind the regime change in Libya and got a taste of his own medicine.
“The US ambassador to Libya was shot like a dog. He was the main specialist on Libya’s “revolution”. He reaped what he had sown,” Zyuganov’s official Twitter said Monday.
Zyuganov said on Wednesday the remarks were taken out of context by a careless press-team worker who updates the blog, but the message remained online, while the Communist party defended its boss.
“Zyuganov told the truth about the events in Libya. Why are you offended by the truth?” it said in a statement, adding that to be shot “like a dog” is not offensive in Russian as it simply means “without mercy”.
A flurry of comments on Russian blogs were divided in praise and scorn of Zyuganov as some people said he was telling the truth while others blasted him for being callous and told him to apologise.
Stevens is believed to have died from smoke inhalation after an attack on the US consulate in eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on September 11, along with three other Americans.
Russia’s Communist party has seen its influence shrink over the post-Soviet period, however it remains the second biggest political force in the country.
While it is in opposition to the ruling party and constantly criticises President Vladimir Putin, it echoes the Kremlin in its statements against intervention in the Middle East by dipping into Cold War anti-Americanism.
Zyuganov last year called NATO’s involvement in Libya a “colonial marauding by the world oligarchy” and this year said the Syrian regime is using aggression because of “provocations by the United States”.