Russia's ambassador To Tehran has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons as Ali Khamenei is expecting a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin soon.
Iranian media have often perceived Levan Dzhagaryan's (Jagarian) controversial behavior as intervention in Iran's internal affairs or as flat insults although he does not seem to be bothered by the accusations. On social media, however, and recently in Tehran media Iranians have been demanding an answer to the ambassador's outrageous and provocative remarks.
Khabar Online, a moderate conservative news outlet in Tehran asked on Sunday, July 17, "Where are the government and the foreign ministry" after Dzhagariantold Sharq newspaper in Tehran the day before that "We have always been on Iran's side, but the West want to bring their absurd values such as homosexuality and other dirty things to Iran but we object to that!"
Many Iranians on social media reminded the ambassador that Russia is a large producer of pornography in the world.
The ambassador also said in the same interview: "There are things that I don’t want to reveal, but what is clear is that Iran owes us hundreds of millions of euros and doesn’t pay." Some Iranians on social media perceived this as a prelude to plundering Iran's resources as the alleged debt is about decades of Russia's partnership with the Islamic Republic in constructing the Bushehr nuclear power plant that contributes little to Iran’s electricity.
In an earlier remark, Dzhagaryan had said that "hijab and the lack of alcoholic drinks in Iran prevent Russian tourists from coming to Iran." His remarks which contained criticism of the Islamic Republic's underlying values, was harshly criticized by former Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari.
Iranian conservative politician Ali Motahari. April 24, 2022
At the same time, Motahari and many other Iranians on social media criticized the Raisi administration's silence in the face of Dzhagaryan's comments. The ambassador's earlier remarks particularly angered Iranian journalists when he told them not to call Russia's war against Ukraine an "invasion." The journalists charged that the Raisi administration does not object to Dzhagaryan because it does not want to annoy Russia which is Tehran's close ally.
In another development, when President Biden and the first lady congratulated Iranians on Nowruz, Dzhagarayan dismissed Biden's gesture as "hypocrisy" and reminded that Biden has imposed sanctions on Iran.
These and several other remarks and actions by the ambassador have most certainly not been constructive while at a higher level, Iran and Russia do a lot to pretend to be allies against the United States and Europe.
The Islamic Republic has gone out of its way to give Russians the authority to intervene during Iran's negotiations with the West to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Although Putin's visit to Tehran is officially within the frameworks of the Astana Peace Process for Syria, the initiative is long dead and Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Khamenei are part of the problem in the Syrian civil war rather than being able to offer solutions.
Putin is most likely visiting Iran to personally convey his messages to Khamenei who never travels abroad and have a meeting with Erdogan to sort out problems about seizing Russian food cargos going through the Bosporus, based on arrangements with NATO.
Meanwhile, Eurasia expert Mahmoud Shouri told reporters in Tehran that Cold War geopolitical demarcations are being revived. He said the meeting in Tehran could be part of the initiatives to forge new alliances. He added in view of the fact that Biden did not gain much during his regional tour, Russia must be thinking of leaving the void Washington has left behind in the region.
What Khamenei can get out of the meeting is pretending that new alliances in the Middle East have not totally isolated him as he can at least host Putin.