20 July 2018
Moscow: 19:36
London: 17:36

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  
info@rusemb.org.uk  

 

PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

22.03.2018

Ambassador Yakovenko introductory remarks at the press conference 22 March 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Number 1 rule in Britain is to start any statement with a joke. Unfortunately, it’s not a time to joke. The issue I am going to raise is too serious.

On 5 March 2018 we heard media reports announcing that the day before two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury. Sergei Skripal is one who has dual citizenship. First of all I would like to wish all the victims, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who also suffered from this incident, speedy recovery and well-being.

The Embassy has immediately requested the British authorities to share information about the incident and details of the ongoing investigation.

Unfortunately, 18 days have passed since the day of the incident and we have not received any official information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or police on the investigation thereof. The British authorities refused to provide samples of the chemical substance. The legitimate consular access to the Russian citizens under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relation has not been granted.

The only response we received from the British authorities was a Note Verbale about medical condition of Yulia Skripal. It did not go further than the official public statements, according to which she was reportedly critically ill, but in a stable condition. The Foreign Office refused to share information on Sergei Skripal, citing his British citizenship.

Therefore, the British Government has violated its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying consular access for the Embassy to the Russian citizens. We continue to insist that the access and full information on the condition of our compatriots, whom nobody has seen since 4 March, should be provided.

On 12 March, 8 days after the day of poisoning, I was summoned by Foreign Secretary Johnson, who put forward a 24-hour ultimatum to explain the Russian Government’s position by the end of the next day. The question was put like following: either the incident in Salisbury was a direct act of the Russian Government against the UK or the Russian Government had lost control of a nerve agent that the Foreign Secretary identified as A-234, and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

Next hour Prime Minister May updated the House of Commons about the incident in Salisbury using the same words as Secretary Johnson did at our meeting, except that she introduced the term “Novichok”, a bizarre Russian name to use with regard to a chemical substance, in a clear attempt to additionally and quite artificially link the incident to Russia.

Next day, on 13 March the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a statement on the incident in Salisbury and strongly protested against evidence-free accusations and provocations by the British authorities. It was emphasized that Russia is not to be talked to in ultimatums, and that in any case we can only properly consider the matter after we receive samples of the chemical substance to which UK is referring to and after the UK complies with the Chemical Weapons Convention that stipulates cooperation between States Parties, for which Moscow is ready. Without that there is no sense in the British statements.

On 14 March the Prime Minister gave another statement on the incident in Salisbury in the House of Commons, where she announced an expulsion of Russian diplomats and other hostile and provocative measures against Russia. She provided no proof of Russia’s alleged involvement in the incident and made a conclusion that, as she put it, it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for it. Thus, the British Government again built its official position on pure assumptions.

The Embassy again requested the British authorities to cooperate under the Chemical Weapons Convention on bilateral basis or through the OPCW Executive Council and share information and the samples of the toxic substance. Due to the pressure of the Russian side, the Prime Minister at last sent a letter to the Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat on 14 March and requested assistance in verifying British analysis.

As I understand, the OPCW experts arrived to the UK this Monday. We do not know their mandate. But I hope they will follow all the necessary procedures and principles of the CWC, including ensuring a proper chain of custody of the samples, if there are any. They would also need to check how that was possible that the British authorities managed to designate the nerve agent used as so called “Novichok” and its origin so quickly. Could it mean that it is highly likely that the British authorities already had this nerve agent in their chemical laboratory in Porton Down, which is the largest secret military facility in the UK that has been dealing with chemical weapons? Is it a coincidence that this chemical weapons facility is only 8 miles away from the site of the incident? How did doctors decide what antidotes to administer to the victims? Russian experts were puzzled by how quickly the British authorities managed to designate the nerve agent allegedly used in Salisbury and how this correlates with Scotland Yard's official statements that “the investigation is highly likely to take weeks or even months” to arrive at conclusions.

We are sure that the results of the Technical Secretariat assistance mission should be reported to the OPCW Executive Council.

A few words about lack of cooperation from the British side.

Instead of imposing a 24-hour deadline the UK could and should have referred to paragraph 2 of Article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which requires the State Parties to make every effort to clarify and resolve through exchange of information and consultations any matter which may cause doubt about compliance with the Convention. A State Party which receives a request from another State Party shall provide as soon as possible, but in any case not later than 10 days after the request, information sufficient to answer the doubt or concern. If they requested information from Russia on 12 March, they would have received it by 22 March.

The British side did not send a request to Russia and is not willing to talk to Russian representatives in the Hague, where the OPCW Technical Secretariat is located. Instead an anti-Russian campaign has been launched in the UK.

To make the story short, Britain has, without any evidence, blamed Russia of poisoning of three people and continues to refuse to cooperate. We cannot accept that.

There is another case, which worries us very much. From the British media, and again not from the British authorities, we have learned about the death of the Russian citizen Mr Nikolai Glushkov. The Embassy has also learned from the press that the police investigating Mr Glushkov’s death assumes that he could have died from “compression on the neck”, suggesting he was strangled.

In full accordance with the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Embassy immediately requested by a Note Verbale full information on the circumstances of the death of the Russian national and on the investigation, but has not received any meaningful response from the Foreign Office so far. Moreover, it seems that the British side is deliberately ignoring our requests and continues to avoid any contacts with the Embassy on this matter.

To summarize what have been said before a Q/A session, I would like to say that the burden of proof lies with the British authorities. By now no facts have been officially presented either to the OPCW, or to us, or to UK’s partners, or to the public.

We can’t take British words for granted.

The UK has a bad record of violating international law and misleading the international community, which includes invading Yugoslavia (78 days of bombardment), Iraq and Libya under false pretexts, and supporting the coup d’état in Ukraine. I would like to quote President Ronald Reagan, who frequently referred to the Russian proverb “trust but verify”.

History shows that British statements must be verified.

We demand full transparency of the investigation and full cooperation with Russia and with the OPCW.

 




LATEST EVENTS

19.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning alleged identification by the Metropolitan police of suspects in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on today’s media reports claiming that the Met Police have allegedly identified two suspected perpetrators of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury? A.: We have seen the report by the Press Association saying that investigators believe to have identified the persons who poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal by cross-checking CCTV recordings with lists of people who entered and left the United Kingdom around that time. The Security Minister Ben Wallace has already given assessment to this report by writing in Twitter that it “belongs in the ill informed and wild speculation folder”. In this regard, we would also like to mention the statement of the Met Police on the Salisbury poisoning published by “Daily Mail” on 17 July, according to which “the investigation into the Salisbury attack remains ongoing and we’re not prepared to discuss any lines of enquiry at this stage”.


19.07.2018 - Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s answers to questions by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency about the investigation into the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents and the murder of Nikolai Glushkov

Question: What could you say about the investigation into the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury? Maria Zakharova: We have noticed that Britain has lately modified the tactics of covering the investigation into the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents. While earlier the London police limited themselves to general phrases accompanied by a lot of media leaks and high-level politicised statements, then now they make regular public statements, with politicians referring to the need to wait for police conclusions. Despite insufficient informative value, this creates an illusion of transparency.


18.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s statement of on the 4th anniversary of the MH17 plane crash in Eastern Ukraine

Q: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insists on Russian state responsibility for downing MH17 flight in Eastern Ukraine. How would you comment on this? A: Indeed, four years have passed since Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight crashed in Donbass, claiming the lives of 298 innocent passengers from many countries. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who lost their lives. From the very first day Russia has advocated a thorough and impartial international investigation into this crash. Our country immediately offered all necessary technical and expert assistance. Instead, the Netherlands did not allow Russia to participate in the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) and opted to pursue a preselected line of investigation, almost entirely ignoring essential information that Russia was providing.


17.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statement of Minister of State Alan Duncan on the “Ukrainian political prisoners”

Question: Foreign Office Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan has urged Russia to release the “Ukrainian political prisoners” Oleg Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh and Emir-Huseyn Kuku. How would you comment on this? Answer: The Embassy has taken note of Sir Alan’s statement, which fails to reflect the real state of affairs. It should be reminded that Oleg Sentsov has been sentenced to 20 years in prison on grave charges of creating a terrorist group and preparing two terrorist acts.


17.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning The New York Times article on the Skripals case

Question: According to the New York Times, British investigators suspect “current or former agents of the GRU” of the attempted poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. How would you comment on that? Answer: We are not surprised by the new wave of anti-Russian publications in the run-up to and on the day of the meeting between the Russian and U.S. Presidents in Helsinki. However, we are concerned by the fact that, while the British authorities keep concealing all information concerning the investigation into the Salisbury incident, the newspaper has quoted “one former US official familiar with the inquiry”. It appears that the British authorities have shared confidential and extremely sensitive information with private individuals who have no authority or grounds for access thereto. Meanwhile, the Russian side has been trying to get access to the investigation and ensure cooperation between the British authorities and Russian experts for over four months, to no avail.


16.07.2018 - Russia-US summit

President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of the United States of America Donald Trump have met in Helsinki for their first full-scale summit meeting. Before this, Mr Putin and Mr Trump had met on the sidelines of various international events.


16.07.2018 - News conference following talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, The talks with President of the United States Donald Trump were held in a candid and business-like atmosphere. I think they were quite successful and beneficial. We reviewed the current state and prospects of Russia-US relations and key international issues. It is obvious to everyone that our bilateral relations are undergoing a complicated period but there is no objective reason for these difficulties and the current tense atmosphere.


14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new invitation of the OPCW experts to the UK

Question: How would you comment on the recent statement of the FCO concerning the new invitation to the OPCW experts to visit the United Kingdom in the framework of the Amesbury incident investigation? Answer: Following the new invitation extended by the UK to the OPCW technical experts “to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent”, which Charles Rowley and Dawn Sturgess have been exposed to, we would like remind of the fact that after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March Russia proposed to the UK to use the mechanisms under Article IX, paragraph 2 of the CWC and carry out a joint investigation.


14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning course of investigation of the Amesbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the recent statements that a small bottle containing nerve agent has been found in Amesbury? Answer: Unfortunately, Russia has no access to any official information concerning both the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and other suspicious incidents in the UK, because the British side refuses to cooperate with us in any way possible. We cannot check or verify any British statements. As for this incident, we have to rely only on public statements, and we are almost sure that the British side will not be informing us directly.


11.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the activity of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down

Question: As early as in April the Russian Embassy requested assistance of the British side in arranging a meeting with Chief Executive of the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Gary Aitkenhead and his colleagues. Have you managed to ascertain whether this secret lab had produced A-234 type agents that were allegedly used against the Skripals? Answer: Sadly, the FCO has ignored our query, which brings us to the conclusion that the British authorities wish to prevent us from communicating with experts who might have some information that is inconvenient for the Conservative government. In his interview to Sky News in April, Mr Aitkenhead himself did not deny the fact that his laboratory had produced and stockpiled nerve agents, including the so-called “novichok”. He added that they “would not be allowed to operate if we had lack of control that could result in anything leaving the four walls of our facility”.



all messages