19 October 2018
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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

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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