MOSCOW: Russia told European governments on Tuesday to stop meddling in Ukraine's political crisis and said events could be spinning out of control in Kiev after violence that left vehicles burning in the streets.
Moscow, which sees its fellow former Soviet republic as part of its traditional sphere of influence, has watched nervously as protests against President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to shun a trade pact with the European Union have turned violent.
Scores of police and demonstrators have been hurt since Yanukovich, who received a multi-billion dollar bailout package from Moscow after he spurned the EU deal, angered opponents by signing sweeping laws to curb public protests.
Criticizing "members of certain European governments" for visiting the protesters in Kiev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "We would prefer that some of our European colleagues refrained from acting unceremoniously over the Ukrainian crisis.
"It is just distasteful," he said, adding that such action had helped encourage the protests.
In December, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Guido Westerwelle, at the time Germany's foreign minister, visited the protesters.
EU ministers have also denounced the new laws curbing public protests as "anti-democratic".
Lavrov criticized the protesters for using "violence, attacks on police, arson, Molotov cocktails and explosive devices" and he called their behavior a "complete violation of all European standards of behavior".
Russian state television has been repeatedly showing footage of the clashes and what appears to be protesters smashing the windows of a bus, underlining the case for the tough legislation and police action to curb violence.