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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Russia opposes UN action on Syria
Syrians demonstrate against the UN report in Damascus
Syrians took to the streets to show their anger at the UN report
Moscow says it will block any UN effort to impose sanctions on Damascus over its alleged role in the assassination of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri.

The UN Security Council is considering a plan - drafted by France, the US and UK - to threaten Syria with sanctions.

Russia, a long-term ally of Syria and a permanent Security Council member, has the power to veto any draft resolution.

Syria has rejected a UN report that accuses it of plotting Hariri's death and blocking an investigation into it.

Its ambassador to the UN said the team led by German investigator Detlev Mehlis was guilty of bias and some countries were fanning "the flames of hatred against Syria".

'Gaps in the inquiry'

Speaking on a visit to Israel, a spokesman for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow "opposes sanctions against Syria".

KEY UN FINDINGS
Lebanese police secure the scene of the bomb attack that killed Rafik Hariri
Assassins had considerable resources and capabilities
Evidence suggests both Syria and Lebanon were involved
Crime was prepared over several months
Hariri's movements and itineraries were monitored
Highly unlikely Syrian or Lebanese intelligence were not aware of assassination plot

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"Russia will be doing everything necessary to prevent attempts to impose sanctions against Syria," he said.

The draft UN resolution proposed by France, the UK and US urges Syria to arrest any of its nationals seen by UN investigators as suspects in the Hariri assassination.

The document says that the UN Security Council intends to consider "further measures", including possible sanctions, if Syria does not fully co-operate with the inquiry.

These sanctions are not spelled out, the BBC's Susannah Price at the UN headquarters in New York says.

The draft would also impose an asset freeze and travel ban on anyone considered a suspect in the UN inquiry.

It also says that Mr Mehlis and his team should be allowed to "interview Syrian officials or other individuals" described as "relevant to the inquiry".

The US and France submitted the resolution hours after Mr Mehlis briefed the 15-member body on his report, which implicated Syrian officials in the assassination of Mr Hariri.

I don't believe that there was enough information to support any of the implications made
Rasha, Egyptian/Syrian in USA

Mr Mehlis also called for greater Syrian co-operation to help "fill in the gaps" about the crime.

The Lebanese authorities have already arrested four high-level Lebanese generals based on the UN commission's recommendations and another suspect with links to a pro-Syrian group.

Our correspondent adds that Mr Mehlis has refused to say whether the brother or brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad - named by a witness in an earlier unpublished report - were suspects.


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