21 January 2019
Moscow: 01:34
London: 22:34

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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

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

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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