18 March 2018
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WE WILL NOT GIVE UP ON OUR MORAL DUTY TO HONOUR ALL OF THE VETERANS OF THE ARCTIC CONVOYS (Article by the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh Andrey A. Pritsepov in ‘The Herald’, 13 June 2015)


Yesterday my country, the Russian Federation, celebrated its national day.

It marks the anniversary of the Declaration of State Sovereignty which dates back to 1990, making our state one of the youngest in the world.


Twenty-five years is just a flash in more than a millennium long history of the Russian nation, but for the first time it marks decisive and focused political transformation of our society towards democracy. Such drastic changes do not happen overnight. We are aware of the risks of setbacks and obstructions on this path. They will only make our will and determination stronger, harden our resolve to accomplish our journey.


To comprehend this phenomenon, take an unbiased look at the history of Russia. You will mostly find turbulent and embattled decades interrupted briefly with time of peace. Centuries have seen rises and falls, invasions from the East and West, civil wars and revolutions. And unlike most other European countries, we were actually spared the basic dilemma - surrender and live, or fight and die. Time after time, the Second World War being the prime example, it was an ultimate battle for the very existence of our state and survival of our nation.


Due to this intense experience of hardship and sacrifice our people fully understand and empathise with the sufferings of others. Hard times not only matured the nation; they also fostered the essential traits of our national character, traditions of helping and supporting each other, feelings of compassion and sympathy to people in need.


Another inherent feature is the ability to be genuinely appreciative of, and to be thankful to, those who gave us a helping hand during the difficult times, to the nations that joined us in the most severe ordeals. Britain and Scotland stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in these crucial tests of history, one of these tests being the Second World War.


One of the most dramatic, tragic and heroic pages of our war-time alliance was the epic story of the Arctic Convoys. Thousands of British, Soviet, American and other allied sailors risked their lives to accomplish one of the war's most demanding and perilous missions. Sailing conditions were incredibly harsh, and the more experienced and advanced enemy did everything possible to prevent these ships from reaching their destinations. Many sailors did not return home. Others struggled their entire lives to cope with injuries and loss of friends.


Recently I enjoyed the special privilege and honour of presenting one of Russia's highest military decorations, the Ushakov Medal, to the Arctic Convoys veterans living in Scotland. The medal, introduced during the war and named after Russia's 18th century admiral who did not lose a battle, is awarded only for exceptional bravery and courage in naval warfare. Since November 2014, I have presented 186 of these medals. A total of 140 were handed to the veterans or their representatives and 46 medals were received by family members of the veterans who, sadly, had died since March 2014.


These are impressive numbers, but there are still 28 medals at our consulate general, awaiting their rightful owners. Any help and guidance in this respect would be much appreciated. We do not abandon our hope and will continue our efforts to get in touch with those veterans or their families, but, sad to admit, it's a race against time. Even the youngest ones, those teenagers who concealed their true age to join the navy, would be aged about 90.


Time takes its toll and the veterans of the Arctic convoys are not getting any younger. Being grateful to them, we feel it is our moral duty to ensure there is public recognition of their sacrifice and to pay tribute to all those who perished in the sea and those who returned home. This tribute is long overdue. This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in the Second World War and there could be no better occasion to do it now, before it is too late. These men did their duty against all odds when our countries needed them most. We owe them our freedom and, probably, our very existence. So let us not fail to thank them properly, and show them due respect and recognition despite politics.


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.

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.

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