21 January 2019
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323 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     315 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

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

21.01.2019 - Embassy’s Press Officer reply to a media question regarding a teenager receiving an award for administering first aid to Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury

Question: How would you comment on the media reports suggesting that it was Abigail McCourt, 16, who was the first to help Sergei and Yulia Skripal after they were poisoned? Answer: If this is true, let us express sincere admiration and gratitude to Abigail for having saved the lives of our two compatriots. At the same time, we have to say that these reports, as many others related to the Salisbury case, are unofficial and unverifiable. Moreover, the fact that Abigail was present at the crime scene together with her mother, Alison McCourt, who happens to be a Colonel and the Chief Nursing Officer of the British Army, adds to the numerous extraordinary coincidences characteristic of the Skripals poisoning. Furthermore, one has to wonder why this information, unusual as it is, has only been made public ten months after the incident.


18.01.2019 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question regarding the UK position on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Question: Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Alan Duncan, addressing the Commons Defence Committee, has once again accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and of the planned US withdrawal from it. He found it difficult to explain the Russian position, calling it a “mystery”. How could you comment on that? Answer: Indeed, the discussion between the FCO Minister of State in charge of Russia and members of Parliament’s Defence Committee was startling. After repeating a standard set of accusations against Russia widely used by the US to cover its urge to unilaterally withdraw from the INF Treaty, Sir Alan visibly struggled to explain the Russian position, not to mention our well-known concerns with regard to the US compliance. Moreover, in order to understand our motives the Minister, referring to the Beatles, suggested one would need to take “a magical mystery tour”.


17.01.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference on the results of Russian diplomacy

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2018 Moscow, January 16, 2019


08.01.2019 - Embassy Press Officer comments on the latest media publication on the Salisbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the Daily Telegraph publications alleging that British authorities have established full details of the assassination attempt of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and describing their current life in England? Answer: We are dealing with yet another media leak, unofficial and unverifiable. It provides no new facts on the Salisbury incident, let alone evidence. The circumstances of the incident remain as confusing as ever.


05.01.2019 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question regarding recent statements on Russia by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Question: How would you comment on Jeremy Hunt’s speech in Singapore, in which he named Russia’s actions on the international arena as the prime example of a threat to the rules-based international system? Answer: Such rhetoric of British officials is not new. It again combines manipulation of international norms with distortion of facts. As stated repeatedly, Russia does not accept the concept of a “rules-based international system”. The international order is based on international law, i.e. legally binding norms that have been agreed on and accepted by all states. By substituting “international law” with obscure “rules”, the UK and other Western countries aim to shed the responsibility for their unlawful behaviour, while assuming the right to randomly blame other countries of breaking “rules” to which they had never signed up.


04.01.2019 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question regarding recent statements by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Syria

Question: How could you comment on the statements by the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a “Sky News” interview on President Assad’s future and the role of Russia in the Syrian peace settlement? Answer: We have taken note of Mr Hunt saying that “regretfully” Bashar al-Assad “is going to be around for a while and that is because of the support that he’s had from Russia” and “Russia may think that it’s gained a sphere of influence [but] you’ve also gained a responsibility”.


31.12.2018 - Interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov for the show, Moscow. Kremlin. Putin, Moscow, December 30, 2018

Question: What is the main outcome of the year for you? Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult to highlight something specific. If we speak about foreign policy, I cannot make an evaluation myself. We have tried to do everything that is necessary in order to fulfill the instructions of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, to implement the foreign political course set by him. It is not for me to judge how successful we were. This should be left to the people to decide, of course, and to the leadership of the Russian Federation.


28.12.2018 - Embassy Press Officer replies to a media question regarding the situation with the staffing of the Russian and British diplomatic missions

Question: Could you comment on the statement by Ambassador Yakovenko regarding the forthcoming restoration of the number of Russian and British diplomats, which was subsequently denied by the UK Foreign Office? Answer: We saw the rebuttal by the British side. Here are the facts. In December Russia and the UK have, for the first time since March, issued a number of visas for future employees of the diplomatic missions of the two countries, on the basis of reciprocity.


25.12.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the Prime Minister’s 2018 Christmas Message to the Armed Forces

Question: How would you comment on Theresa May thanking the UK Armed Forces for “protecting our waters and our skies from Russian intrusion” in her Christmas Message? Answer: We were utterly surprised by the Prime Minister’s rhetoric. An uninitiated reader may fall under the impression that Russia has made attempts to violate the UK air space or territorial waters. This has never been happened.


24.12.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Rossiya Segodnya

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, December 24, 2018



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