22 October 2018
Moscow: 15:25
London: 13:25

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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

13.04.2018

Ambassador Yakovenko’s talking points at the press conference

The Skripal case

-  Nearly six weeks have passed since the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and exactly a month since Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of this crime.

-   The   British   government   still   hasn't   presented   any evidence in support of its position.

-   The   investigation   is   conducted   in   the   most   non-transparent way. The British government refuses to cooperate with the Russian authorities, which have not received a single request for assistance.

-  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is continuously ignoring our legitimate requests and questions concerning the condition of Mr and Ms Skripal and the circumstances of this incident.

-    Without   any   explanation,   the   British   Government continues to violate its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the bilateral Consular Convention. We are not allowed to see our citizens, talk to doctors, have no idea about the treatment the Russian nationals receive.

-  The British authorities consistently deny consular access to Yulia Skripal and her father. We cannot be sure that Yulia's refusal to see us is genuine.

-  The British government continues to conceal information regarding whereabouts of Yulia Skripal, who was discharged from   hospital   and   allegedly  transferred  to   either   a   "safe location",  or a "military base", or a "well-guarded country house".

- We have every reason to see such actions as an abduction of the two Russian nationals or at least as their forcible isolation. The statement made by Scotland Yard on behalf of Yulia only confirms our suspicions.

-  We get the impression that the British Government is deliberately  pursuing  the  policy  of destroying  all  possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making an independent and transparent investigation impossible.

- The cooperation between the UK and the OPCW is non-transparent as well. Instead of using the normal OPCW procedures whereby the UK could have engaged Russia directly or through the OPCW Executive Council, the UK has chosen to cooperate bilaterally with the OPCW Technical Secretariat under an arrangement the details of which are unknown.

 

Murder of Mr Glushkov

- The Embassy is unsatisfied with the current level of interaction with the authorities.

-  On 6 April FCO invited us to contact the Metropolitan Police directly.

-  Last Monday I sent a letter to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ms Cressida Dick with a request for a meeting in order to discuss this case in details. No answer has been received yet.

 

Russia’s position on the OPCW report

-          Russia has received the OPCW report on the Salisbury incident. We will be able to comment on it after our experts study it carefully. At this stage, I have to say, that in order to draw conclusions, we have to look at the chemical and spectral analysis of the samples.

-          Today Russia is going to send an official request to the United Kingdom under Article IX, paragraph 2 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

- Under that Article, States Parties should make every effort to clarify and resolve any matter which may cause doubt about compliance with the Convention through exchange of information and consultations. A State Party which receives a request shall provide a reply within 10 days.

-          It is regrettable that the UK invited OPCW experts under Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which does not provide for direct cooperation between the parties concerned.

-          We have noted yesterday’s statement by Foreign Secretary Johnson, who said that “the OPCW has confirmed the findings of the United Kingdom, and that was a military grade nerve agent – Novichok, and only Russia has the means, motive and record”. This is not the case. Porton Down and now the OPCW have refrained from identifying the source of the substance. This is another reason why the United Kingdom should cooperate with Russia. Such cooperation would raise chances to obtain answers to the question of where this substance came from and who is the perpetrator of this crime.

 

Syria

- The situation in Syria and the military action the US is threatening to undertake along with its UK and French allies are at the focus of our attention today.

- A few words about the reason or rather the pretext for those threats – the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, part of Eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus.

- The Syrian Government has been repeatedly warning for at least a month that rebels prepare to stage a provocation with chemical weapons in this very area.

- Such reports indeed appeared on 7 April, from the notorious “White Helmets”, who receive support from the UK Government and have been proved more than once to be staging attacks and spreading fake reports. Other groups include the Syrian American Medical Society and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, operating from the US and the UK respectively.

- Syrian authorities were immediately blamed by the US and its allies for this so-called “attack”. Again, no tangible proof was presented and no questions asked.

- Why would Damascus use chemical weapons in a situation where peaceful evacuation of militants was underway and the area was being liberated?

- Russian services for chemical and radiological security visited the suspected site of the incident in Douma and did not find any traces of chemical substances there. No persons treated for chemical poisoning were found in local hospitals.

- We are interested in seeing independent experts there, so they can make all the necessary tests. We welcome the OPCW Director-General’s decision to send a fact-finding team to Douma at the request of the Syrian Government. We believe it should be deployed as soon as possible and we are ready to assist in ensuring its safety. Hope they will arrive tomorrow. Any delay may be used to carry out military strikes to cover up all the evidence, or lack thereof, on the ground.

- We would like them to engage in a thorough examination in line with the rules – that means visiting the place of the alleged incident and taking samples, not just remotely studying social media messages and pictures.

- Two draft UN SC resolutions proposed by Russia with the aim to create a neutral investigative mechanism were blocked by the same three permanent Security Council members who are now threatening to act as a prosecutor, a judge and an executor, “punishing” Syria for an alleged “crime” that no one has investigated. It is clear that the goal of these unsubstantiated lies and the new blatant campaign against Syria is to discredit the Syrian government and to justify the possible use of force by external actors.

- Any military action against Syrian Government is against international law, against the Charter of the United Nations.

- The infamous aggression against Iraq in 2003 immediately comes to mind, when the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair deliberately misinformed the Parliament and the public. It is well known how it ended – with Chilcot inquiry delivering a condemnatory verdict.

- We are witnessing very dangerous developments. The current US policies supported almost mechanically by the UK and France are becoming a threat to the peace and security in the region and beyond.

- We urge the international community not to remain idle and to voice concern over the inconsiderate actions the US and its allies are planning to take.

 

Eastern Ghouta and Douma

- As a result of the complex humanitarian operation, over 170 000 people have been evacuated from Eastern Ghouta. More than 40 000 people have left Douma, via safe corridors. Russian military police entered the city yesterday.

- Situation in Eastern Ghouta is stabilizing gradually. Government forces have reclaimed control of Eastern Ghouta. The area is thus almost cleared of terrorists and extremists who have been for years killing and injuring civilians, shelling Damascus. Local residents have already started returning to their homes.

- The evacuation has been monitored by UN experts. The residents who left their homes have been placed in temporary centers and provided with food and basic necessities. The Russian military has delivered 518 tons of humanitarian aid to people in need.

- The withdrawal of civilians and the evacuation of militants are carried out absolutely transparently. The Russian Defence Ministry's website continues to offer live broadcasts from video cameras located in Eastern Ghouta.

- Hostilities in Douma have been ceased for 7 days now. The Russian side continues to negotiate the release of hostages taken by terrorists. As a result of agreements with the Jaysh-al-Islam 195 hostages have already been freed.

* * *

- The current situation throughout Syria urgently requires coordinated international efforts to promote peace, including humanitarian assistance.

-          The poor epidemiologic state of Raqqa remains a source of grave concern.

-          Once again we urge the international community to fulfill its duty and provide assistance to the affected Syrian population.




LATEST EVENTS

15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services

Question: Russian officials claim that “Bellingcat” is connected to intelligence agencies of the Western countries, but do not present any evidence of such ties. Doesn’t such approach contradict Russia’s position on the Salisbury incident, the MH-17 catastrophe and other notable cases, where the Russian government is continuously demanding to publish proofs of accusations? Answer: There is no contradiction. The fact that “Bellingcat” is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an “icon of independent journalism), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If “Bellingcat” can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public.


15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the British government calls to step up anti-Russian sanctions

Question: How would you comment on the news that the British government has been lobbying a new EU sanctions regime against Russian nationals allegedly involved in use of chemical weapons and cyber-attacks in Europe? Answer: We have taken note of the respective statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of 14 October and the relevant media reports. These suggest that, faced with an imminent Brexit, the British government makes every effort to step up the sanctions pressure on Russia and to complicate as much as possible Russia-EU relations after Brexit.


13.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 October marks seven months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. Does the Embassy have any new information on this case? A.: Unfortunately, once again we have to state that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of the death of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Glushkov that occurred on British soil on 12 March. The British authorities continue to ignore numerous Russian 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 Nikolay Glushkov’s death. There are no answers to the Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting or consultations between the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation experts and the Metropolitan Police representatives.


12.10.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions. Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.


09.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new Bellingcat’s investigation

Question: How would you comment on Bellingcat’s claims that it has “tracked down Alexander Petrov’s real identity”? Answer: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently advised us to consider such publications and statements as a display of freedom of public debate into which the UK Government does not interfere. There have already been reports that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police would not comment on these “speculations”. This is exactly the case when we should follow the example of our British colleagues.


08.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK authorities’ reaction to Russia’s official requests following recent flagrant media publications

Question: The Embassy declared its intent to request clarifications from the British side following the recent accusations of cyberattacks, and the media reports on preparations for retaliatory cyberstrikes against targets in Russia. Has there been any response? Answer: Today we have received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which implies that, as before, the British side is not going to provide us with any details that may serve as the basis of the accusations. In this case, we are not in a position to make comments on the essence of those accusations.


05.10.2018 - Embassy comment on another groundless British accusation against Russia

On 4 October, UK Permanent Representative to OPCW Peter Wilson speaking on behalf of Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan claimed that the “GRU” allegedly “attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack” and “targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory”. The same day the UK National Cyber Security Centre stated that “multiple email accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station were accessed and content stolen” and “the GRU was almost certainly responsible”.Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proofs supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the BBC journalist Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on the Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal published on 4 October? A.: We intend yet to study this book. At the same time, it is a well known fact that Mark Urban has close links with British secret services. This gives us grounds for considering this book as an attempt to compensate for Sergei Skripal’s public non-appearance as the key witness to the Salisbury incident. Instead of facts, the public is again offered speculation and guesses.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the recent anti-Russian statement by the Foreign Office

Question: How would you comment on today’s statement by the Foreign Office accusing Russia of worldwide cyber-attacks on massive scale? Answer: This statement is reckless. It has become a tradition for such claims to lack any evidence. It is yet another element of the anti-Russian campaign by the UK Government.


03.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on INF Treaty

Question: How would you comment on the latest statements by US officials on Russia’s alleged non-compliance with INF Treaty? Answer: Russia has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). The US allegations of Russian non-compliance relate to one particular missile type. While we have assured Washington on multiple occasions that the mentioned missile does not violate INF, the US has never explained the exact reasons of their preoccupation. These allegations divert attention from the American actions that are breaching a number of INF provisions.



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