The chairman of Myanmar's State Administration Council, the military junta governing the country since the Feb. 1 military coup, has accused Western nations of interference in the country's affairs.
In an interview with Russia's RIA news agency on Monday, Min Aung Hlaing said the West is in an effort "to destroy" Myanmar, and put in power people under its control.
According to him, the biggest risks in the Asia-Pacific are connected with "the attempts to interfere in the regional countries' internal affairs."
Asked about the ongoing political crisis, he said elections will be held as soon as the investigation regarding violations in the previous vote is complete.
"We found that some people do not have passports, which led to the falsifications [in the previous elections]. There are about four million of people without passports. This is a disadvantage on the part of the government. That's what we said, so now we have to deal with it. We need a year and a half, eighteen months to issue passports. But it also depends on the people," he said.
Hlaing promised that all political parties will be able to take part in the elections, and that existing election laws will not be changed.
Commenting on the arrest of former state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, he said the court will decide her fate.
She is defending herself against alleged offenses such as illegally accepting $600,000 and gold from the former chief minister of Yangon, possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, and breaching the Official Secrets Act.
The takeover has led to months of demonstrations and a mass civil disobedience movement, which has been met with brutal force. At least 883 people have been killed in the crackdown, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group.
Suu Kyi's party won a second term last November, but the military said rigging in the polls had forced it to seize power.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has 10 members including Myanmar, has led diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.
The international community has backed ASEAN’s mediating role, but some Western powers have also imposed sanctions.
As for his visit to Moscow, Hlaing said he came to take part in the Moscow Conference on International Security, and also met military chiefs regarding the purchase of Russian air defense systems.
Myanmar also eyes to buy two million doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, he added.