The power vacuum created by the Ukraine crisis, termed a “revolution” by some media outlets, has raised alarm bells not just in Moscow and Washington, but in Tehran as well.
Iranian parliamentarians have watched events in the eastern European country unfold with concern, wary that the protests would inspire anti-government rioting in Iran.
On Wednesday, the International Business Times quoted Iranian MP Alireza Salimi as saying he hoped the Ukrainian revolution would “instil vigilance in those naive enough to believe the sedition was only an incident.”
He was referring to the wave of protests and mass rallies, known as the Green Movement, that followed the 2009 reelection of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The developments in that country [Ukraine] demonstrate the scenario that the enemy dreams of for our country,” he added, cautioning against foreign influence on Ukrainian affairs.
Other ministers were careful to distance Iran as much as possible from the Ukrainian crisis, which has so far resulted in a fragile regime change.
Iran Pulse’s Arash Karami devoted an article Tuesday to Iranian Justice Minister Moustafa Pormouhammadi, who urged Iranian newspapers to show restraint in their coverage of the Ukrainian crisis.
Pormouhammadi claimed some newspapers had turned the Ukrainian uprising “into a domestic issue” by devoting sympathetic articles and “large, colorful pictures” to the events.
And indeed, wrote Karami, reformist newspaper Shargh devoted two-thirds of its front page this week to former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s release, ostensibly drawing a parallel between Tymoshenko’s cause and that of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both still under house arrest. The hardline Vatan-e Emrooz, on the other hand, painted the Ukrainian government’s fall as a tragedy which had caused the country to descend into chaos – what Iranian hardliners “feared would have happened in 2009 had they not cracked down,” according to Karami.
Clearly, the Ukrainian revolution has roused Iranian hard-liners’ fears that a protest movement silenced in 2009 could rise again and even succeed – a fear, plastered all over the country’s newspapers, that further fuels the growing, and increasingly public, rift between the moderates and hard-liners in Tehran.