Russian President Vladimir Putin
on Thursday condemned the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya,
calling it a tragedy, and made clear he believed Western support for rebels in
Arab countries was leading to chaos.
Putin, who has sharply criticized the
United States and NATO for helping Libyan rebels drive Muammar Gaddafi from
power and has warned of further bloodshed, said the attack underscored the need
for closer cooperation against extremism.
Libyan Islamists staged military-style
assaults at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador and
three other diplomats on Tuesday. Demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in
Yemen and Egypt on Thursday.
"There can be only one reaction: we
condemn this crime and express sympathy to the families of the dead,"
Putin said of the Libya attack.
The attacks on the U.S. embassies in Yemen
and Egypt on Thursday were in protest at a film which demonstrators consider
blasphemous to Islam. American warships headed to Libya after the related
violence that killed the U.S. ambassador there.
"We must all treat religious feelings
with special attention and great care," Putin said.
Western governments have criticized as
excessive the two-year jail sentences handed to three women from punk band
Pussy Riot for a profanity-laced "punk prayer" in a Moscow church in
which they urged the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.
"If a state does not react swiftly and
firmly to provocations aimed against people's religious feelings, the angered,
offended and humiliated people themselves will start to defend their own
interests," Putin said.
"Sometimes this takes completely
unacceptable forms and they use unacceptable methods," he said.