21 August 2018
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London: 10:49

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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

11.05.2018

Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question concerning the situation with consular access to Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Q. Russia has on numerous occasions accused the UK of violating consular conventions as regards access to the Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal. How does this correlate with the need to obtain their consent for such communication while, according to the British authorities, the Skripals do not want to speak to the Russian representatives?

A. The British side has informed us that Yulia Skripal is allegedly unwilling to communicate with the Embassy. It has refused consular access to Sergei Skripal citing his British citizenship. The British authorities claim that Russian nationals must absolutely provide their consent to communicate with consular officers.

We cannot accept such position. In Russia-UK bilateral relations, any communication between citizens and consular officers is regulated by the Consular Convention between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of 1965. According to its Article 36, “a consular officer shall be entitled within the consular district to communicate with, interview and advise a national of the sending State and may render him every assistance”. As one may see, Article 36 does not contain any reference to the requirement of a person’s consent for a consular visit.

In other terms, such communication is not just a right of a person, but also a right of a consular officer and, thus, a right of the sending State. This right of Russia is being grossly violated by the UK.

Such wording of the Convention is not accidental. A State violating the rights of a foreign national could have easily referred to his/her reluctance to seek protection by a consular officer. The authors of this agreement rightly determined that such reference cannot justify the refusal for communication between a citizen and a consul. The situation with Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a fine example of relevance of such logic of the Convention.

Article 36 also states that “in any case where a national of the sending state has been arrested or is held under any other form of detention… the consular officer shall have the right to visit and to communicate with him without delay”. In accordance with the official comments of the UN International Law Commission, this provision “applies also to other forms of detention (quarantine, detention in a mental institution)”. As the British authorities conceal Yulia Skripal from the public and make official statements on her behalf, such situation is obviously covered by this article.

As for the reference of the British authorities to Sergei Skripal’s British citizenship, it is also unacceptable for us, and that for the following reason. In accordance with Article 30 of the bilateral Consular Convention, “the term “national” shall mean any person whom the sending State recognises as its national”. Sergei Skripal was not stripped of his Russian citizenship (this is prohibited by the Russian Constitution) and did not withdraw from it voluntarily. He remains a Russian national and enjoys full right to communicate with Russian consular officers, and Russia enjoys full right to communicate with him as well. As we understand, the UK follows the same approach in its discussions on consular cases with dual citizens, for example in Iran.

Of course, we do not intend to impose our assistance to our citizens. They are free people. But, considering all circumstances, it is important for us to get assured of their well-being. We are not satisfied with the statements of the British officials that Yulia Skripal does not want to communicate with us. How can we be sure that she has genuinely expressed such will?

We intend to continue to demand an opportunity to communicate with the Skripals in person. If they don’t require our assistance, they can inform us directly. But if the British authorities continue to refuse to facilitate such a meeting, it will mean that the Skripals either have been forcibly isolated, or their condition is different from the one described in official statements.

On 10 May 2018 these positions were conveyed by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Dr Alexander Yakovenko, during his meeting with Director General, Consular and Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Philip Barton.




LATEST EVENTS

20.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Question: Does the Embassy have any new information regarding circumstances of the death of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov in London on 12 March? Answer: Unfortunately, we have to state once again that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of Mr Glushkov’s death. The British authorities continue to ignore our requests. After the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommended to address all correspondence on this case not to the police but to the FCO, the Embassy has sent a respective Note Verbale.


18.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s comment on anti-Russian statement by Minister of State Mark Field

We have taken note of the speech by Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field in the Philippines during his tour of Southeast Asia. The Minister has irresponsibly stated, inter alia, that “in recent years many countries have fallen victim to Russian state aggression”. These accusations are absolutely misleading. As we have emphasized over and over again at various levels, Russia does not threaten anyone. The UK, on the other hand, in recent years together with the US have initiated aggression in Iraq, destroyed Libya and committed an act of aggression against Syria this April by launching a massive missile attack on its territory.


17.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on cooperation between the UK and the OPCW with regard to the investigation of Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

Question: How would you comment on the recent information regarding the OPCW experts’ visit to the UK upon the British authorities request for “technical assistance” in the framework of the investigation of the Amesbury incident? Answer: First of all, we would like to point out that the Embassy has learned about the OPCW experts’ visit to the UK from the media publications. Unfortunately, the British side continiously refuses to launch a transparent and independent international investigation.


17.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on the UK plans to provide assistance for Idlib province in Syria

Question: How would you comment on the statement by the UK government on its intention to provide assistance for Idlib province in Syria? Answer: We monitor closely the modalities of the UK assistance in Syria, what are its objectives and who are its recipients. The official British statement issued today indicates that the assistance will be provided to Idlib province. Moreover, according to the statement, around 3 million civilians “have sought shelter” in this area, while “many have already been displaced multiple times”.


16.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning possible reputational costs to the UK and the US following the Salisbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the claims that the refusal of the British authorities to cooperate with Russia on the investigation of the Salisbury incident might damage the UK international reputation? Answer: The Embassy is still concerned about the lack of information regarding condition and whereabouts of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Unfortunately, the British authorities continue to refuse us consular access to them. The UK government ignores numerous relevant requests for legal assistance sent by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation to the Home Office. This is a clear breach of UK international obligations.


16.08.2018 - Agricultural Attaché Vladimir Derbenskiy visits School of Veterinary Sciences University of Bristol

On 15 August 2018 the Agricultural Attaché of the Russian Embassy Vladimir Derbenskiy visited the School of Veterinary Sciences University of Bristol.


15.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s comment on the UK media speculations around the Arctic

We have taken note of a number of publications in the British media (including today's issue of the Daily Telegraph), presenting the conclusions of the House of Commons Defence Sub-Committee report "On thin ice: UK defence in the Arctic" as evidence of “a serious threat to Britain from Russia on the Arctic flank”. On this false basis the authors of the pieces call for enhancing the UK military potential in the region as well as an overall increase in the government defence spending.


13.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on the prospects of the UK involvement in humanitarian assistance to Syria

Q: How do you assess the prospects of the UK involvement in humanitarian efforts to help the Syrian people? A: Our contacts at the FCO clearly show that the UK government, unfortunately, is not ready to change its position and join the international efforts aimed at providing assistance for the people of Syria. We do not see any practical steps by the official London in this direction, although, in our opinion, now is just the right time to act. However, British authorities do not go beyond expressing concerns over the Syrian population’s sufferings.


13.08.2018 - Foreign Ministry statement

On August 8, the US administration announced the imminent imposition of new sanctions against Russia on the basis of the US national law on Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination. Our country is accused of having used chemical weapons in connection with the so-called Skripal case, although no one has yet been able to provide any evidence of this, and the British side, despite our repeated requests, refuses to cooperate in the investigation of the March 4 Salisbury incident.


10.08.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 August marks five months since the mysterious death of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov in London. Has any clarity been established in this case? A.: Unfortunately, we have to state that no clarity has been established as the British authorities continue to ignore our requests. Since 26 April, when Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police Mr Neil Basu QPM informed us about the course of the investigation into Mr Glushkov’s death, only the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has contacted the Embassy with the request to address all correspondence on this case not to the police, as it was advised earlier, but to the FCO in the first instance.



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