On Saturday, 25 November 2023, Bangladesh Nationalist Party-BNP said it expected Russia and other international communities to play a positive role in restoring democracy in Bangladesh.

The party expressed the expectation in a statement, signed by its senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, following a statement of Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Bangladesh politics.

‘It has come to the attention of the people of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-BNP that Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Maria Zakharova made some remarks on 22 November 2023, in Russian MFA’s X (Twitter) handle,’ Rizvi said.

He said that Zakharova accused the United States ambassador to Bangladesh, Peter Haas, of meeting with an opposition member to organize anti-government rallies, thereby interfering in the internal affairs of Bangladesh.

‘Zakharova’s comments are in stark contradiction to the desires and aspirations of the citizens of Bangladesh for a transparent and inclusive election. The BNP strongly refutes the spread of disinformation,’ Rizvi said.

Given the Awami League’s tainted track record in the 2014 and 2018 farcical elections, as well as ongoing human rights violations using the state apparatus, the BNP leader said the pro-democracy people and major political parties in Bangladesh believe that a transparent and inclusive election under the current regime, led by Sheikh Hasina as the Prime Minister, is a far cry.

Rizvi said that the people of Bangladesh and the democratic opposition forces, led by the BNP, had been struggling for over a decade for the restoration of their stolen voting rights.

‘Presently, our nation’s citizens are actively engaged in a peaceful and nonviolent movement for holding a free, fair, participatory, and peaceful election of international standard, under the supervision of an election-time non-partisan government and administration, braving atrocious police persecution and joint operation of the police and the ruling party goons,’ he said.

Over the last few months, Rizvi said, the opposition political parties have organized numerous massive rallies spontaneously attended by millions in Dhaka’s capital and divisional headquarters across Bangladesh.

‘The question of aiding such rallies by any foreign diplomat is not only far from true, but a clear fabricated blame on the people’s just struggles for democracy, a complaint never raised earlier by any,’ he observed.

The BNP leader also said that Zakharova’s statement aligned with the corrupt, autocratic regime. Against the people's will, it amounted to interference in Bangladesh's internal affairs, which was unexpected and unfortunate.

He also said that Zakharova’s statement had hurt the feelings of the teeming millions, whose close relatives, numbering in thousands, had sacrificed their lives since the onset of this autocratic regime in 2009.

Currently, Rizvi said, democratic individuals are on the streets, shedding blood for the values of democracy, the rule of law, and freedom of speech.

‘The people of Bangladesh gratefully acknowledge the positive role of the democracy-loving countries and international institutions of the world. The inspirational diplomatic initiatives transcend political affiliations and ideologies and unite Bangladeshis with the shared objective of reclaiming power for the people,’ he said.

However, Rizvi said that the pro-democracy citizens did not relish seeing any other country side with the current autocratic regime in Bangladesh.

He said that Russia was a long-standing friend of Bangladesh with mutual trade, commerce, and other bilateral interests, and the BNP recognizes and acknowledges historical Russian contributions and values the cordial relationship between the citizens of the two nations.

‘We expect that Russia will not go against the will of Bangladeshis. As our nation strives for the restoration of voting rights and fundamental liberties, the support of Russia will be appropriated,’ Rizvi said.