Russia-affiliated businessman calls for Syrian minister’s resignation

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The following is an English-language version of Levant Network research prepared for Akhbar Alaan.

A Syrian businessman from Tartous who is involved with Russian investments in the country has gained attention with his call for the Internal Trade and Consumer Protection minister to resign.

In a video posted Saturday on his Facebook account, Eyad Mahmoud Hassan said that Syrian people have lost trust in Atef Naddaf, the minister tasked with ensuring food security in the country.

“I ask of you as a citizen, present your resignation,” Hassan said in the video, which has been viewed over 300,000 times. 

Food prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks as Syria suffers from a deteriorating economy. The quickly-rising have become a theme in the economic sections of pro-regime media, with Al-Watan reporting on April 19 that living conditions have “become intolerable” in Hama.

In his nearly seven-minute long video, Hassan visited a market where he enquired on the prices of different fruits and vegetables. Afterward, he criticized Naddaf for his inability to halt price rises.

Naddaf’s Internal Trade Ministry states that its mission is to “ensure the basic needs of Syrians at reasonable prices” as well as “protecting consumers from fraud.”

“People are tired, prices are unreasonable,” Hassan said, adding that Syrian citizens had lost trust in not only the Internal Trade minister, but the cabinet he serves in.

While Hassan criticized the minister, he made sure to praise Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, writing on Facebook that “we have no future except through your leadership.”

In June 2019, Russian-government affiliated media outlet Sputnik News profiled Hassan, who is a member of the Russian-Syrian Business council.

Eyad Hassan (R) alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a photo posted to the Syrian businessman’s Facebook account on April 11, 2020.

In an article titled “Russia’s Yalta in Syria’s Tartous,” Sputnik News described how the Syrian businessman’s company, Eyad Hassan for Real Estate, was developing a Russian-Syrian investment project.

Hassan’s company is working to set up a complex in Tartous that includes a school as well as a hotel and a large mall.

The Syrian businessman told Sputnik News that he was hoping the complex would attract more Russian tourists to Syria, including the coastal region.

Hassan also said that he was working on a project to exhibit products made in Crimea, a region annexed by Russia in 2014, in Syria, while Syrian products could be exhibited in Crimea. 

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