Russia views as unacceptable the use of force to change regimes, including in Belarus, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference here. "Democratic principles should not be enforced from outside. We do not support the use of force to change regimes," he said about national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's statement that Belarus is the last dictatorship in Central and Eastern Europe and her plans of meeting with the Belarussian opposition.
According to the minister, Belarus was not on the agenda of the NATO-Russia Council. "Nobody raised this issue" or the Chechen problem "at the Council session."
"The political process in Chechnya has been launched and we would welcome any assistance," Lavrov said, adding that the EU is pondering a program of economic assistance to the reconstruction of Chechnya. He recalled that parliamentary election is set for autumn in that Russian republic.
The development of the Russia-NATO and Ukraine-NATO dialogue will benefit all sides and European security as a whole, the Russian minister said.
When a journalist implied that Russia was against Ukraine's integration into NATO, Lavrov replied: "The choice of foreign policy strategy is a sovereign right of each state. This is also true of Ukraine."
He said that his Ukrainian colleague Boris Tarasyuk and he would exchange opinions on the development of their countries' relations with the bloc later in the day.
Sergei Lavrov informed him NATO colleagues about Russia's contribution to the settlement of conflicts in Georgia and the progress of Russia-Georgia talks.
"We are ready to promote an exclusively peaceful settlement of conflicts in Georgia, including the Georgia-Abkhazia and the Georgia-South Ossetia ones," he said. "Russia is taking part in the talks on the settlement of both conflicts."
The minister believes that progress has been made in this sphere and the forthcoming Geneva meeting of the UN Secretary Generals' Group of Friends of Georgia should seal the result.
Lavrov refused to comment on the recent US Congress resolution acknowledging the illegality of the post-war occupation of the Baltic countries by the Soviet Union. "I do not think I should react to the US Congress resolution," he said at the press conference in Vilnius.
On January 15, it was reported that the Russian government began to develop sanctions against several officials at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)