18 March 2018
Moscow: 18:36
London: 15:36

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Agenda: I pay tribute to the dignity and modesty of the brave sailors of the Arctic convoys (by Consul General in Edinburgh Andrey A. Pritsepov to Herald Scotland)

Tonight I shall host a gala reception on board the Royal Yacht Britannia to mark the 75th anniversary of the first Arctic convoy with the codename Operation Dervish. It is meant to be a special event: a solemn and dignified tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. More than 50 Arctic convoys veterans living in Scotland are attending the celebrations.

During the event I am going to read an address by the minister of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr Sergey Lavrov, to the veterans and guests as the event. He emphasises: “The chronicles of the convoys are an integral part of the history of Russian-British relations. 75 years ago, just a few weeks after the treacherous attack of the Nazis on our country, Archangel was greeting British ships which brought first aid from the allies in this most terrible war in the history of mankind. The first convoy was lucky to avoid any losses but there were still almost four long years ahead, filled with the trials and bitterness of sufferings."

He goes on: "The task of thousands of sailors of Great Britain, the USSR, the United States and other allied countries was to challenge the formidable Northern seas to confront an enemy ready to attack at any moment. Many of them didn’t reach their destination. Yet, the arrival of each ship at the harbours of the northern Russia was not just about the delivery of a valuable cargo; it was a sign that the Soviet people were not alone in their struggle against fascism. Your courage and dedication brought much closer the day when the hateful Nazi war machine was finally defeated."

With support from Scottish business, the Russian Consulate General has prepared for the veterans unique artifacts related to the Arctic Convoys. They include an exquisite Cold Seas and Warm Friendships photo-book by Commander Dairmid Gunn and photographer Kenneth Reynolds, containing life stories of 30 veterans and rare historical photographs; a limited anniversary edition Highland single malt whisky “in recognition and gratitude to all those who steadfastly served with honour and distinction”; and a three-piece set of woollen souvenirs, made of specially registered Russian Arctic convoy tartan.

A minute's silence will be observed in tribute to those who never came back. The memory of their sacrifice will be treasured in my country forever.

This week, as well as tonight, there is a series of commemorative events in Russia taking place in Archangel and Saint Petersburg. Her Royal Highness Princess Anne is attending the events. I am pleased that several guests from Scotland are there, among whom will be two Arctic convoy veterans.

Throughout my years as the Russian Consul General in Scotland, I have met many brave sailors from the Arctic convoys. I was honoured to present the esteemed Russian military award, the Ushakov Medal, personally to each of them, listen carefully to their stories, study the old photos and look into their eyes. I was impressed and humbled by the modesty and dignity of these brave men.

Conversations with the veterans left a deep impression on me. Going through the horrors of war, witnessing their brothers in arms lost to enemy attacks, the veterans truly understand the value of peace. I am saddened to say this but they might be the last generation to know exactly the right from the wrong.

The veterans are at a venerable age but, when they tell their war stories, I see their eyes light up as if they were young again and sailing the stormy waters of the Arctic, braving the elements and resisting the ruthless enemy. Each of them told me that he did nothing special, just his job. By doing that job properly, with courage and valour, they wrote themselves into a proud page in our shared history.

Now, more than ever, it is of the utmost importance to preserve the legacy of the Arctic convoys for future generations and recognize the heroism of these brave sailors who went through unimaginable hardships so that we could live in peace. The veterans are living proof of the fact that our countries, despite differences and setbacks, could work together successfully to address a common threat and be victorious.


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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