22 September 2018
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London: 00:51

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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

21.09.2018 - Reply by the Embassy’s spokesperson to a media questionregarding the Guardian piece on Julian Assange

Question: How would you comment on today’s Guardian article claiming that “Russian diplomats held secret talks to assess whether they could help Julian Assange flee the UK”? Answer: This publication has nothing to do with the reality. The Embassy has never engaged either with Ecuadorian colleagues, or with anyone else, in discussions on any kind of Russia’s participation in ending Mr Assange’s stay within the diplomatic mission of Ecuador.


21.09.2018 - Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the incident in Salisbury

Why should we trust or distrust Petrov and Boshirov when there’s zero evidence on the table that would in any way link their very existence to the Salisbury incident? Just because these people were there? Then, can Britain provide a list of all the foreigners who were in Salisbury on those days? On top of that, no one has seen Sergey Skripal since the incident. No one has even talked with Julia Skripal. The whole thing is absurd, because these two individuals came in, talked with Simonyan, provided answers to the counts that the UK publicly accused them of, and, for some reason, everyone is now saying, “We do not believe them.” However, when Yulia Skripal spoke before a camera, which was operated by no one knows who, and didn’t answer any question, but instead read a text apparently written for her by someone, and before that published a text similarly written for her by someone, everyone said, “Yes, of course, we trust her.”


20.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the meeting of the Minister for the Middle East Mr Alistair Burt with the White Helmets group

Question: During his visit to Turkey the Minister for the Middle East Mr Alistair Burt met with the infamous White Helmets group, whom the Russian Federation considers terrorist supporters. How would you comment on that? Answer: It is up to HMG of course to decide which contacts are to develop and whom the senior diplomats are to meet. Nevertheless, this choice is a truly remarkable one.


18.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the classification of the materials on A.Perepilichny by the UK government

Question: How would you comment on yet another decision of the British side to classify additional information on Mr A.Perepilichny within the inquest into his death? Answer: This procedural decision concerns classification of information on Mr A.Perepilichny’s connections to the British secret services, to wit, whether he has been their agent or made contact with them. It has been made public just before the next hearing of the inquest into the death of Mr A.Perepilichnny, which is scheduled for 21 September in the Old Bailey.


17.09.2018 - Embassy press officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statements of FCO Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan

Question: How would you comment on the statement of Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan to the effect that the UK will “push for new sanctions […] as well as robustly enforcing the existing EU regime against Russia”? Answer: This and other similar statements fall in line with the Conservative government’s current policy aimed at destroying the fabric of Russian-British relations, further isolating Russia and presenting it as a major threat to the “rules-based international system”. Faced with the realities of Brexit, the British government is desperate to convince its partners of the need for a tougher sanctions regime against Russia. As usual, it resorts to insinuations, unverified facts and media leaks. Despite our numerous requests, no evidence of Russia’s responsibility has been provided. Russia’s proposals of cooperation in dealing with common challenges and threats, including in the sphere of cybersecurity and chemical disarmament, are being rejected without explanation.


13.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning upcoming annual conferences of the UK’s major political parties

Question: What does the Embassy expect from the party conference season in the United Kingdom starting this week? Answer: Annual conferences of UK’s major political parties are important events in the country’s life. At the conferences parties set out their priorities on a wide range of issues and arrange open and frank discussions on pressing domestic and international matters. Among other things, they offer a platform for a dialogue between party leaders and activists and the diplomatic corps.


12.09.2018 - Embassy press officer’s reply to a media question concerning the inquiry into the death of Mr Nikolay Glushkov

Question: 12 September marks 6 months since the mysterious murder of the Russian national Nikolay Glushkov in London. Does the Embassy have any new information regarding the circumstances of his death? Answer: Unfortunately, the British side continues to pay no attention to our numerous requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the death of Mr Nikolay Glushkov, which was delivered to the Home Office as early as in April. The Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting between the Russian Ambassador and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, or between experts from law enforcement authorities of the two countries, made as far back as in April, have also been met with silence.


11.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statements by the British officials on retaliatory measures against Russia

Question: How would you comment on the recent statements of the British officials who said that the UK was prepared to “retaliate” against Russia, including by deploying its cyber warfare capabilities? Answer: Yet again, we have seen a series of official statements to the effect that the UK should use its “massive retaliatory capabilities” to counter Russia’s “aggression”. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the UK had “considerable powers, and we’ll bring all these powers, both covert and overt to bear on Russia”. Last week GCHQ head Jeremy Fleming spoke in a similar vein saying that the British authorities and their allies were prepared to “counter the threat” allegedly posed by Russia. In this context he mentioned a plan to “deploy the full range of tools”, including Britain’s “offensive cyber capability” against Russia. Such statements are reckless, provocative and unfounded.


09.09.2018 - Embassy response to Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s remarks at the Andrew Marr Show, 9 September 2018

Sajid Javid: This [the Salisbury incident] was the act, we now know unequivocally, crystal clear, this was the act of the Russian state. Comment: If Mr Javid has evidence that allows him to make this kind of direct accusations, why wouldn’t he share it with the public? So far, what the public has seen is nothing but photos of two Eastern-European-looking men walking around Salisbury on two different days. Everything else, including exact dates and names, let alone these gentlemen’s involvement in the Skripals poisoning and their links to the Russian state, is only assertions based on unverifiable “intelligence” and on the “lack of alternative explanations”. If the “crystal clear”-level evidence exists, it is in everyone’s interest for it to be published.


08.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s response to a media question on the investigation Nikolay Glushkov’s death

Question: How would you comment on the new circumstances of the investigation by British authorities of the death of Nikolay Glushkov? Answer: We should note that British authorities continue to refuse to cooperate on the investigation of the mysterious death on 12 March in London of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Nikolay Glushkov producing different versions and leaks that are convenient for the UK Conservative government.



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