30 March 2015
Moscow: 14:33
London: 11:33

Consular Section:  
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PRESS RELEASES

03.11.2011

Russian Embassy representative was refused the floor at the Henry Jackson Society event on Luke Harding’s book on Russia in the House of Commons on November 2, 2011

On November 2, 2011 the Henry Jackson Society held an event on Luke Harding’s book on Russia in the House of Commons. Russian Embassy representative had been invited and accepted on the condition that he would be given the floor. Such assurances were given. However, the Embassy representative was refused the floor by the Chairman, Fabian Hamilton MP for comments on the prior speech of Luke Harding. He was only allowed to ask Luke Harding questions. In view of that he had to leave the meeting.

One has to wonder what then the organizers of the event assumed the role of the Embassy representative to be. This refusal is all the more extraordinary that Luke Harding spoke mostly about freedom of speech and state of the media in Russia. It is also out of sync with elementary rules of hospitality and politeness. Practically always when the Embassy representatives are invited, it’s done to listen to a Russian view on a matter under discussion. We have to believe that in this particular case the hosts were not interested in listening to any opinion other than their own highly biased view of Russia. It has to be noted that it was the choice of living in denial, in an intellectual cocoon and being closed to a free reasoned debate that ultimately doomed the neocons in the US and earlier the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union with similardestructive consequences for both countries and the wider world.

It goes without saying that this incident by no means could shake our confidence in the commitment of the British people to democracy and freedom of speech. However, it can’t help causing concern that some marginal political groups propagate ideas and policies that have already proved their being out of sync with the reality of a fast changing world of today. One should not underestimate their desire to preserve, at the level of public opinion and mentality of political elites, the transitory moment in the Euro-Atlantic politics, which had to do with artificial tensions in the relationship between Russia on one hand and Britain on the other. This unfortunate time is fast becoming the past, inter alia, with the change of government in Britain. We are looking with confidence into the future of the Russo-British relationship, based, among other things, on the positive outcome of the September visit to Moscow by Prime Minister David Cameron.

To prove that in Russian Embassy representative’s remarks there is nothing subversive or that might be deemed un-British, and thus would be capable of shaking the Henry Jackson Society members’ faith and convictions, we will publish the text of the remarks.




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