Stefan Meller Time is GMT + 8 hours Posted: 14 August 2005 0711 hrs
Russia says it regrets beating of Poles in Moscow
WARSAW : Poland reported that a Russian minister had said that he regretted and deplored a series of attacks in recent days on Poles living in Moscow.
The foreign ministry in Warsaw quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loschinin as telling his Polish counterpart Andrzej Zalucki in a phone call initiated by Moscow that "the Russian police were doing their best to arrest and put on trial the perpetrators of the attacks."
Relations between the two neighbours deteriorated after the mugging and beating of three teenage children of Russian diplomats and their Kazakh friend in a Warsaw park on July 31 - an incident that Putin termed "an unfriendly act."
Polish police later charged two men with possession of mobile phones stolen from the teenagers in the incident.
In apparent retaliation, a Polish embassy employee, a Polish diplomat and a Polish correspondent were beaten in separate but similar incidents in Moscow this week by unidentified attackers.
But the Russian foreign ministry earlier blamed pre-election tension in Poland for a rise in anti-Russian sentiment and a worsening political atmosphere.
"The hope was expressed that, despite the tension of the pre-election fight in Poland, the build-up of anti-Russian sentiment... will be stopped," the ministry said in a written statement after a meeting between Polish Ambassador to Moscow Stefan Meller and Loschinin.
Increased Russophobia in Poland, the statement said, "creates an atmosphere in relations between the two countries in which criminal actions such as the ones that happened in Moscow and Warsaw are possible."
Poland's presidential election is scheduled for October 9.
"We are not satisfied with the current state of Russo-Polish relations," the statement said, emphasising that good neighbourly ties and cooperation should win out.
Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Russia's Vladimir Putin addressed the issue of the beatings in telephone talks Friday and agreed these were criminal acts linked to tense relations between the two countries, the Kremlin press service said.
Kwasniewski said he was disturbed by the attacks and called on Putin to take urgent action to find those responsible.
"The Russian side is ready to take and is taking all the steps needed. Moscow hopes that Warsaw, too, will relate to this matter responsibly," the Russian foreign ministry said on Saturday.
Moscow police beefed up security outside the Polish embassy building and set up a centre for investigating the incidents.
Following his meeting at the Russian foreign ministry, Meller expressed hope for improved relations between the two countries, the Interfax news agency reported.
"I have concluded that we are at a turning point... We must do everything to improve the situation to make it as it was before, to have a political dialogue between our countries, our societies. I hope this happens quickly," Meller said.
"As far as the attacks in Moscow are concerned, there is no doubt that we are talking about hooligans or thieves but they knew very well who they were targeting," Meller continued.
Traditionally testy relations between Russia and Poland, formerly subject to Moscow but now an increasingly influential power in Eastern Europe, have further deteriorated in recent months after a series of diplomatic disputes. - AFP/de http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/163087/1/.html
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