22 January 2018
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Rugby World Cup Sevens: A Hooligans’ Game Played by Gentlemen

In just under two months' time, one of the world's most exciting sporting tournaments - the Rugby World Cup Sevens - will get underway at Moscow's iconic Luzhniki Stadium, home to the historic 1980 Olympic Games.

Moscow will play host to some of the world's most talented athletes for what promises to be an amazing sporting spectacle, drawing fans from across the world and, crucially, introducing many thousands of Russians to the great British game of rugby.

I must applaud the International Rugby Board for its decision to award the hosting of one of its flagship events to Moscow. We know that Russia is relatively unchartered territory for the IRB, but this is precisely why they took the bold decision to bring the Rugby World Cup Sevens to Moscow.

Russia has sport in its blood, it is part of our DNA, but as yet, rugby has still to break through into Russia's wider public consciousness. Moscow 2013 will help to change that. We understand the trust that the IRB has placed in Moscow to deliver a tournament that it can be proud of, and we will not let it down.

That is why we are planning a major community ticketing program that will mean thousands of young people from Moscow and beyond will get to experience the skill and spectacle of world class rugby sevens at Luzhniki Stadium. It is why we are rolling out a multi-million dollar advertising campaign for the tournament across Moscow. And it is why we have relaxed tourist visa requirements for the tournament.

More about UK-Russia relations

It is an exciting time for rugby in Russia. We have 26,000 rugby players in Russia and I am sure that number will grow on the back of this summer, and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where rugby sevens will make its debut. That is because Russia is passionate about Olympic sport.

And with our women's sevens team currently lying 7th in the Sevens World Series, possible medal contenders in Moscow this summer, and our men's sevens team in the ascendency, the summer of 2016 could well prove to be another major milestone for the development and popularity of rugby in Russia.

As part of my own role promoting Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, last week I was delighted to host a reception for the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce in London. This important organization has existed since 1916 to build trade and cooperation between our two countries, and the reception reminded me that it is not just in commerce that Russia and Britain share strong ties. Our links also reach into rugby.

For example, Kingsley Jones, our Russian men's team head coach, is Welsh. Howard Thomas, deputy managing director of RWC Sevens 2013 and vice president of the Rugby Union of Russia, is a former CEO of England's Premier Rugby.

Several of Russia's national squad are now playing professionally in England, including Northampton's Vasily Artemyev and London Welsh's Kirill Kulemin. And our men's team visited England last year as part of its preparations for this summer's tournament and played against a number of teams including Canada and the U.S.

My message to the many British companies that attended last week's reception was simple. Moscow will stage a fantastic tournament and your organisation should be there, not just to experience an amazing sporting spectacle in one of the world's most vibrant cities, but to use Moscow 2013 as an opportunity to further develop your own business contacts and commercial opportunities.

Read more article from Alexander Yakovenko

As with any growing company with global ambition, a clear vision and a desire to develop new markets, the IRB has chosen Moscow to help grow rugby in what it has termed a 'new frontier' - Russia. That is a smart strategy that I am confident will show real dividends in the years ahead.

The nations of Great Britain have for a long time played an important role in developing and professionalising rugby, and Russia is now benefiting from Britain's longstanding rugby experience. By hosting the World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, the time when Russia can stand tall on the rugby pitch is now closer than it has ever been, thanks to the vision of the IRB.

Moscow cannot wait to welcome the world's rugby community in June 2013. So whether you want to be part of a great sporting spectacle, experience Moscow and all that it has to offer in the height of summer, or develop your Russian business contacts, come and join the party!


17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.

13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.

08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)

25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.

20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.

16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation

25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.

23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.

12.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the exhibition opening (“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” 12 September, British Museum)

Today the British Museum and the State Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg are once again proving their unique world class by bringing a whole new civilization to London. Ancient, and almost mythical, but creative, powerful and very different from what we have all known about antiquity – the Scythians.

14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone's sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?

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