23 July 2018
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London: 02:57

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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

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”.



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