4 October 2015
Moscow: 14:03
London: 12:03

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One more time about Pussy Riot rights

Many of those who read British press get a wrong impression that Pussy Riot band members were wrongfully detained and convicted for being against President Vladimir Putin. Regrettably, the majority of newspaper articles use wrong categories in reporting on this case. British media presents the topic under the banner of the freedom of speech and self-expression. In Russia, however, this matter is discussed as to whether there is a punishment for those who burst into the place of worship insulting the religious feelings of a considerable part of Russian citizens and debauch there.

According to a British journalist Simon Jenkins http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/west-hypocrisy-pussy-riot, who cites a Russian poll, only 5% of respondents do not think that the band deserves to be punished, while 65% believe that the band members must be jailed and 29% wish they were subject to community service. These data should not come as a surprise, for Russia is a country of 143 million people, 75% of whom identify themselves with the Orthodox Christianity. Russian Muslims, by the way, have not sympathised with Pussy Riot’s performance as well.

One will recall the outrage started by the Muhammad cartoons published in one of Danish newspapers. They were published not without a reason and were aimed at stirring anti-Islamic sentiment in the Western society at the time of the so-called “war on terror”. What was its result? Growth of xenophobic and extremist manifestations, which, by the way, might well be posing a threat to the European democracy itself, as for example is the case of Anders Breivik. This act by Pussy Riot is considered as a similar provocation against religion.

Let us recall that many countries’ laws provide punishment for the insult of feelings of other citizens. Pussy Riot’s bravado is nothing new. In the recent past, such “performances” took place in European countries not without subsequent lawsuits. Just recently the Catholic Church of Germany has been reported to accuse followers of the Russian punk-band of disorderly behaviour at a religious service in Cologne. Under the German law, they might face a real prison sentence.

No one would dare to dispute decisions of court in Western countries. Russia’s judicial system is an independent branch too. The verdict to those who performed the “punk-prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was passed by court after a thorough consideration of all facts of the case in full compliance with the Russian law. It is very easy to give outsiders’ advice without knowing the details and even without trying to fully comprehend the matter. We doubt that the court, for example here in Great Britain, would take into consideration advice of those who, in effect, try to influence the course of justice.

An American lawyer Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins”. We all remember how the Taliban destroyed Buddha statues in Afghanistan. The world was shocked and appalled. Let us recall the desecration of Muslim tombs in Northern Mali. Perhaps, it is too early to draw the line in the debate on the limits of self-expression. So this case is not about politics, played by the rules, but about insulting the religious feelings of fellow citizens which goes far beyond what any democracy allows, beyond civilized behavior pure and simple.


23.09.2015 - In times of official sulk, culture and people lead the way (Ambassador A.Yakovenko for RBTH, 22 September 2015)

Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alexander Yakovenko, about the biggest exhibition of Soviet space artefacts ever seen outside Russia.

19.09.2015 - Transcript of Ambasador Yakovenko's interview for Rossiya TV, 17 September 2015

It is difficult to overestimate the significance of Jeremy Corbyn being elected by an overwhelming, mostly young people's majority, the new leader of the Labour party and, thus, leader of the official parliamentary opposition. This is nothing short of a radical breakthrough in British politics of the last 30 years, which have never stepped beyond the so-called Thatcherist neo-liberal consensus of the establishment. In fact, the establishment, mostly under the pretext of the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, proceeded from the premises that the new era is one of single-option policies, particularly in social and economic matters. This absence of pluralism was all the more visible against the backdrop of an economic downturn as austerity was being enforced upon people despite the fact that, according to independent experts, it offered no solution to the crisis. Now financial inequality is on the rise, the middle class is shrinking, the post-war 'social contract', which aimed to build a social economy or what one might call capitalism with a human face, has been practically scrapped.

16.09.2015 - Ambassador A.Yakovenko on reception at the Russian Embassy to mark the opening of the “Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space age” exhibition

It’s a pleasure and honour for me to welcome you all at this reception to mark tomorrow’s grand opening of the exhibition “Cosmonauts: birth of the space age” at the Science Museum.

19.08.2015 - Russian Embassy to "Financial Times" on Ukraine

14.08.2015 - Comments of Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy A.Kramarenko on some issues of WWII to the “Independent”

May I join the debate sustained by Anthony Beevor and Mick Hall (11 August). Nobody denies that crimes were committed. But what is not taken into account is the fact that the Red Army (unlike, let’s say, the Americans) saw what the Germans had done on their soil on their way from Stalingrad to Berlin. Almost every soldier and officer had personal accounts to settle. That is why strict discipline was enforced as the Red Army entered German territory, including by the security bodies nobody liked.

14.08.2015 - Russian Embassy comments for Russian media (ITAR-TASS Agency) on the state of Russo-British relationship (30 July, translated from Russian)

QUESTION: What would you say on the present state of our relationship with Britain? It looks like after the May parliamentary elections our countries resumed contacts at political level, if we take the phone call of Prime Minister D.Cameron with President V.Putin and Ph.Hammond and S.Lavrov's meeting in Veinna. Still, the same very tough rhetoric by official London at all levels against Russia over the Ukraine crisis is striking. I mean the statements on 'Russian aggression' etc, and all of it in company with the 'Islamic State' and hacking attacks. Where are things moving, and are there changes for the better?

07.08.2015 - Regarding the comment made by the Home Office on issuing visas to the Russian Embassy staff

We have carefully examined the statement of the Home Office concerning the terms of issuing visas for Russian diplomats and other Embassy staff. In particular, it was said (quoted by "Novosti" news agency) that "diplomats must have right documents to come into UK". Does it mean that the Russian diplomatic and service passports raise suspicions of the British side? Our main concern, however, is delays in issuing visas for the Embassy staff. The Home Office spokesman, avoiding a direct reply, referred to what was said on entry into UK territory by all Russian citizens, which is "making sure false representations were not used to obtain the visa, and no facts were withheld".

06.08.2015 - Russian Embassy comments on the “public inquiry” into the “Litvinenko case”

In 2014 judicial authorities of Great Britain suspended a Coroner’s inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, wherein the Investigative Committee of Russia had the status of an “interested person”. In July 2014, against the background of the tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine, the British government decided to hold, instead, a “public inquiry”.

05.08.2015 - Reply by press-secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK to Russian media question on UK’s diminishing Russian diplomatic presence in Great Britain

Question: How do you assess the current bilateral relations between Russia and the UK on the visa track, have you advanced? Answer: The word “progress” means moving forward. That does not apply to the present picture of our bilateral relationship as the British side is trying to shape it.

03.08.2015 - Russian Embassy comment on the "Financial Times" editorial on the Litvinenko case

Dear Sir, I find outrageous your editorial on the Litvinenko public inquiry (3 August). It proceeds from the assumption that the inquiry is up to the standards of due process and a competitive scrutiny of evidence it provides for. It is far from that. In the first place, there is nothing public in the inquiry, which will consider the British special services' evidence in secret. It was the main reason, why Russia's Investigative Committee, participating in the Coroner's inquest (now suspended), decided not to be party to the public inquiry. It is notable that one line of evidence in the public inquiry is totally absent. I mean the fact of finding traces of polonium in the restaurant Abracadabra in Jermyn Street two days before Alexander Litvinenko was presumably poisoned in the Millennium Hotel. The owner David West was killed later on and his restaurant closed. Then another crucial witness Boris Berezovsky died under the circumstances, not established by the Coroner's inquest, which ended in an open verdict. Not to mention that any evidence, including his intention to return to Russia, was pushed aside to ensure that suicide version had no credible alternative.

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