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Russia believes Hariri tribunal vote was premature

MOSCOW, May 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia believes the UN Security Council's vote on setting up a special tribunal to try suspects in former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri's murder was premature, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ten nations voted in favor of the resolution at the 15-nation UN Security Council on Wednesday. Russia and four other members abstained from voting, saying it could cause new upheavals in Lebanon, which has been in deep political crisis between the pro-Western government and the Syrian-backed Islamist opposition led by Hezbollah.

"This position is fully in line with our respect for Lebanon's sovereignty, strengthening its political independence and stability, restoring national unity in the country, and our condemnation of politically-motivated murders and acts of terrorism," the ministry said.

The ministry said Moscow has always supported a fair trial for all suspects involved in the assassination of Hariri two years ago, but believes several provisions of the draft resolution violate international law.

"In particular, Russia deems procedures of implementation based on a unilateral decision of the UN Security Council to be incorrect from the point of view of international law."

"We also took into account the fears of many concerned parties in Lebanon and the region that a hurried decision on this issue could spark political tensions in Lebanon and deepen the divide within Lebanese society, rather than help restore national reconciliation and stability," the ministry said.

China, Indonesia, South Africa and Qatar, abstained from May 30 vote, in addition to Russia.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora asked the UN Security Council to set up the tribunal in early May amid political turmoil in the country.

The UN resolution will come into force on June 10 unless the Lebanese parliament decides to establish the tribunal itself.

The UN Security Council asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to take necessary measures to set up the tribunal within 90 days, together with the Lebanese government. Lebanon will nominate the judges.

Rafik Hariri, a strong critic of Syrian influence in Lebanon, died in a car bomb in Beirut. Neighboring Syria, implicated in a UN report, has denied involvement.

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