23 July 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.

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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!


24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.

20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.

21.04.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's talking points at the Press Conference, 20 April 2018

Since we met last time a lot of events took place: - Military strikes of the United States, UK and France against Syria in violation of the international law - Mission by OPCW inspectors to Douma - Speech of Prime Minister May in Parliament in support of the British aggression against Syria - Special meeting of the OPCW Executive Council (18 April 2018) - New developments in the classified case of Salisbury poisoning of Skripal family - No meaningful developments on the Glushkov case - and Cyber security threats I plan to comment all these issues. And I will be happy to answer all our questions, if you have any.

17.03.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Mail on Sunday" (full text)

Q: Bearing in mind that the US, France and Germany have said they agree with Britain that all the evidence suggests the attacks in Salisbury were the responsibility of the Russian state, what credibility can be placed on the denials issued by the Russian Government? A:We don't know if UK presented any evidence to US, France and Germany - highly likely none - but if they did, why not present it through the channels outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention? Universal legal principle is presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof lies with the British Government. Its record includes the Iraq WMD dossier - you will remember that at some point doubting US and UK claims was considered a wild conspiracy theory. It is not any more.

26.01.2018 - Main foreign policy outcomes of 2017

In 2017, Russian diplomacy addressed multidimensional tasks to ensure national security and create a favourable external environment for our country's progressive development. Russia maintained an independent foreign policy, promoted a unifying agenda, and proposed constructive solutions to international problems and conflicts. It developed mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and played an active role in the work of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the SCO, the OSCE, and the CSTO. Among other things, Russian policy has sought to prevent the destabilisation of international relations, and this responsible policy has met with broad understanding in the international community.

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.

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