MOSCOW, October 23. /TASS/. Russia has never changed its stance on Syria and supports only the legitimate power, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, the prime minister said it was up to the Syrian people and not up certain ethnic or political groups to choose the country’s leader. Russia would help Syria defend its sovereignty, he pledged.
"On Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Moscow," said the prime minister, noting that he had taken part in negotiations of the Syrian leader with the leadership of the Russian Federation.
"Prior to that, I saw the Syrian president during my visit to Damascus in May 2010. Syria was a completely different country at that time — calm and civilized," he added.
"Historic center of Damascus where I managed to take a stroll and speak with its residents, looked as a city where people of different nationalities and confessions were coexisting peacefully," he continued.
"I talked to Syrians, who spoke very warmly of Russia and its people, took photos of ancient mosques and churches. It was a modern secular country," he continued.
"It all changed literally in a year’s time. From 2011, the life of the Syrian people has turned into a nightmare: war, terror, deaths, destruction of religious shrines and monuments of universal importance," he stated.
"Russia has never changed its stance on the Syrian issue. We have always supported and keep supporting only the legitimate authorities," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Despite the years that have passed, I want to say that during his latest visit to Moscow President Bashar al-Assad was as calm and sober minded as five years ago," the prime minister continued.
"It is obvious that Syria today is one of the key issues on the global agenda. Russia has come to assistance at the request of the Syrian leadership, and we are now fighting all together against terrorism. But the destiny of the country remains in the hands of the Syrian people," he continued.
"It is the people, and not certain ethnic groups or political forces that are to determine how and under whose leadership they will go forward. We will keep helping the Syrian people in their maintaining sovereignty. And we believe in a peaceful future of that ancient land," he summed up.