The United Nations Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for January 5 on Iran's street protests at the behest of the United States and over strong objections raised by Russia.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called for the meeting earlier this week in what she said was a bid to "amplify" the message of the antigovernment protesters, while Russia said such a meeting would be "harmful and destructive."
"The UN must speak out" in support of the protesters, Haley said. "This is a matter of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, but it is also a matter of international peace and security."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as as saying by Russia's RIA news agency on January 4 that "We see no role for the United Nations Security Council in this issue... Iran's domestic affairs have nothing to do with the United Nations Security Council's role."
Ryabkov added that Russia believes any bid by the United States to try to increase UN sanctions on Iran over the protests would be "illegitimate."
Iran's UN ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo has also objected to what he characterized as meddling in Iran's internal affairs by the United States. He had no immediate response to the decision to hold the meeting.
The UN debate was scheduled as protests continued late on January 4, in parts of the capital Tehran and in other cities amid a heavy police presence and more than 1,700 arrests.
In Tehran there was one protest gathering on Jomhouri (Republic) avenue, not far from Supreme Leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei's residence. Two other demonstration took place in different parts of Tehran.
In Isfahan protesters were shouting "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I give my life to Iran".
There were protests in Shiraz in the south, Ahvaz and Dezful in the southwest, Aligoodarz in the West and Noshahr in the north.
In Tabriz, the most important city in the predominantly Azeri speaking northwest, crowds were chanting "spring of freedom".
Meanwhile, 133 exiled Iranian political and civic activists issued a joint statement supporting the protests, but asking demonstrators in Iran to avoid violence.
At least 22 people have been killed and more than 1,700 were reportedly arrested in the demonstrations, which are the strongest challenge to Iran’s leadership in almost a decade.
The new arrest toll comes with further confirmations announced by Islamic Republic officials. However, provincial officials have also mentioned new arrests without giving any numbers.