Russian Crisis: Major berates rebels

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The Independent Online
THE WEST rallied to the support of President Boris Yeltsin last night after he declared a state of emergency, Reuter reports.

British and French leaders voiced firm support for Mr Yeltsin, blaming the violence in Moscow on his political opponents.

John Major, offered his support, saying: 'President Yeltsin has my sympathy and support in dealing with the difficult situation in Russia. He has received a democratic mandate from the Russian people at the ballot box in this year's referendum and last year's presidential election. He deserves the support of all democrats inside and outside Russia.'

France blamed anti-Yeltsin forces for the casualties. France 'deplores the loss of human life for which forces opposed to President Yeltsin hold a heavy responsibilty,' the Foreign Ministry said.

The Nato secretary-general, Manfred Woerner, said yesterday he feared civil war could break out in Russia if the army interfered in fighting between supporters and opponents of President Yeltsin. 'Naturally the situation is explosive, extraordinarily serious,' Mr Worner told German television in an interview from Washington.

European Community foreign ministers, long scheduled to meet in Luxembourg today, will find the turmoil in Russia topping their agenda. Officials said yesterday's events in Moscow were expected to take centre stage right from the start of the meeting.