19 March 2018
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Bonds forged by the great game of football can help defeat terrorism (by Consul General Andrey Prisepov for Herald Scotland)

Two weeks ago, we all followed a rather special football game at Wembley: England playing France just days after the attacks in Paris. The innocent victims of these inhuman assaults were remembered with dignity and poignant tribute was paid by players and supporters. Thousands of people shared their passion for the great game and, equally, showed their compassion in a manifestation of unity and solidarity.

Once again football embodied human spirit and an affirmation of life. History has numerous examples of what seems to be the inherent qualities of the game. Herald readers may have watched the 1980s film Escape to Victory starring Michael Caine. In the movie, allied prisoners of war play football against their Nazi guards, knowing they will be shot should they win.

The film was based on true story of Nazi-occupied Kiev in the summer of 1942. Local FC Dynamo players, some of them POWs, had to play against troops representing a Nazi regime holding almost all of Europe hostage. And they won.

The final game against Wehrmacht soldiers, dubbed the "Death Match", ended 5-3. Kiev players knew that victory would cost them lives but they didn’t hold back in seeking and securing a victory. They were sent to Nazi death camps and never returned.

Meanwhile, in 1942, in besieged, starving Leningrad another Dynamo, with all players in defending their city, played teams from local factories. Exhausted by hunger and cold, they kept playing football, braving the bombs and shells.

Some players who fell did not get up. Matches were shortened. In May 1942, just after the Great Siege’s deadliest winter, when Dynamo Leningrad beat a local factory team 6-0, one player said: "It was a victory for all of us: victory over ourselves, over fear, over despair. Victory over a cruel, relentless winter … that devastated the city, but didn’t break the survivors. It didn’t break the most important, the will to live." A return game was contested by fellow Leningraders and ended in a draw. Football was played regularly until the end of the devastating siege.

Soon after, in the spring of 1943, yet another FC Dynamo, from Stalingrad, played a game literally on the ruins of their home city, which had just survived the war’s fiercest battle. Locals hosted Spartak Moscow. Muscovites even brought kits for their hosts as nothing was left intact in Stalingrad apart from human spirit. Dynamo won 1-0, proving that life was returning to a levelled but victorious city.

The final chapter of this FC Dynamo-themed football epic brings us back to the present, as today is the 70th anniversary of another historic match. It wasn’t the game that was played against the odds. To the contrary, it was the game between two victor nations that won the deadliest war in mankind’s history with sacrifices beyond imagination.

On November 28, 1945 Glasgow Rangers hosted Dynamo Moscow. The war was over and our countries had to think about healing wounds and rebuilding our countries. To celebrate the war-time alliance, Dynamo travelled to Britain for four games. They played Chelsea first (a 3-3 draw), then beat Cardiff (10-1) and Arsenal (4-3). The match against Rangers was the grand finale.

Players on both sides impressed each other. The Scots recognised their opponents' individual strength, ability to play as a team and their passing skills. Soviet players noted: "We must learn from the British footballers … their technique, the way they control ball … their sniper shots at goal."

The score was meaningful: a 2-2 draw. "Friendship wins", as we say in Russia. And, indeed, friendship had won well before: when Allied convoys departed from Greenock for Murmansk; when Soviet pilots were stationed in Montrose; and when submariners operated from Dundee. These joint efforts helped our nations to defeat the greatest evil, to win victory for the human spirit over death and terror. It’s good to remember, 70 years on, this friendship of Auld Lang Syne; friendship personified by football, the great game uniting us when we face a common threat again. While we grieve over the innocent victims of a downed Russian passenger jet and attacks on boisterous Paris streets, we must think of tomorrow. We are all at war against terrorism. To defeat this evil, we should stop political posturing and put our future in our own hands, acting as a single, united and determined football team. Russia is ready to join the side.

Original: http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14109788.display/


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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