18 December 2018
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289 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     281 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



President of Russia Vladimir Putin gave interview for Vokrug Sveta magazine

As Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the national public organisation Russian Geographical Society, Vladimir Putin answered questions from the organisation’s magazine Vokrug Sveta [Around the World].

QUESTION: Over four years ago, you became Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society. How would you assess the Society’s activity during this period? What are its strategic goals for the coming years?

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: The full-fledged revival of the Russian Geographical Society is a key event in Russia’s public life. The Society’s experience, great traditions, extensive research and intellectual potential can impress anyone who loves their country and wants to know and understand the various stages of its development. Geography is actually a very broad, multifaceted notion. It is linked inseparably with national history and with the lives of many generations. It is, of course, linked with nature and the environment, with the ethnic and cultural heritage and local studies, with scientific discoveries and creative initiatives.

In these past five years, the Russian Geographical Society team has managed a great deal. Primarily this is because they are focussed on reviving the Society’s traditions, which is their main objective. One of these traditions is the involvement in its activities of the public across the nation: young people, the academic and media communities and philanthropists. Historically one of the main priorities of the RGS has always been opening up new branches in remote parts of Russia. Today our Society is becoming the centre of attention for many active, passionate, creative and ambitious people. We now have an entire network of regional branches. Thus, if in 2009 there were only 16 branches, now there are 85, including the recently revived ones in Crimea and Sevastopol. The Society currently has over 14,000 members.

There is also a youth section called RGS Pathfinders. I would like to stress that we attach special significance to involving young people in practically all of the Society’s projects. This is obvious: when you have the organisation’s future in mind you need to share responsibility for tackling the current tasks with the younger generation and support their initiatives. In a word, you need to work hand in hand, and RGS is doing just that.

Over 150 expeditions and research projects have been carried out under the aegis and with the support of the Society. Among them is the largest in the past decades archaeological and geographical expedition to Kyzyl-Kuragino, the Arctic expeditions, including those to the Novosibirsk Islands; and environmental ones, like Fukushima. There were also underwater expeditions to the ships Oleg and Lefort in the Baltic Sea, and military history projects.

We attach special importance to educational work. Our regional branches regularly hold educational expeditions for schools focussing on learning about their local areas, cooperate with school geography teachers, and arrange science workshops for young scholars. I consider these activities as important as major research. I would like to single out the book-publishing programme called the Great Russian Travellers and a TV series on national television called Geography Class. We expect the RGS’ educational, media and book-publishing projects to be used extensively as study support materials.

We have completely restored the Society’s St Petersburg headquarters, both the historical façade and the interior. A lot has been done to save its unique library, archives and map collection. Through the efforts of the Board of Trustees, the Society now has its headquarters in Moscow, complete with a lecture hall, a media studio, an exhibition hall and a library. We are planning to open up headquarters in Sevastopol in the Constantine Ravelin.

As for our strategic goals, we will continue providing every assistance to the development of geography and complementary sciences and bringing together people who initiate various projects in this area. We find it important to take part in nature conservation measures and to strengthen partnerships with organisations that support our agenda. I am certain that soon the RGS will be among the leading geographic societies of the world.

QUESTION: Do you see the RGS as an instrument for developing domestic tourism?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Undoubtedly, RGS activity should serve to promote tourism within the country, primarily by popularising our rich historical, cultural and natural heritage. This can be done not only through expeditions, but also by means of films, lectures, tours and on-site events.

This can also be achieved through the implementation of projects directed at the study of unique sites and entering them into the UNESCO World Heritage list. Russian sites account for only a few percent on that list. A meagre few percent – considering the vast opportunities offered by Russia’s long and rich history, its multi-ethnic people and its culture. A lifetime is not enough to see, experience and study all of it. This is where I see a broad scope for the Society’s hard work. We have to involve experts in various fields here: historians, biologists, ethnologists and landscape experts. There are great and exciting prospects.

Already now, RGS projects help open up the potential of environmental tourism. This work has to be developed in the regions where national parks and reserves attract both scholars and the public. These are places for recreation and for acquiring knowledge of these unique locations and their natural resources.

Clearly, the development of tourist routes should go hand in hand with nature preservation and environmental education. We already have examples of such efforts: these are the Sayano-Shushensky, Baikal and Stolby reserves. We need to spread information about their experience and local RGS branches could take an active part in this.

QUESTION: Your interest in preserving and increasing populations of rare species is widely known. For example, the project to return the Persian leopard to the Caucasus, initiated with your support, became one of the most significant environmental initiatives within the framework of preparing for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. What future plans does the Russian Geographical Society have in store to protect animals?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: When we first began supporting projects to study and preserve rare species, we chose several, not just recognizable but, more importantly, “problematic” species. “Problematic,” first and foremost, with regard to the scale of the issues to be resolved.

For example, to preserve the Siberian tiger, we needed to work in various areas: research – research projects received significant support, and we introduced tiger population monitoring; international – we held the Tiger Summit; wildlife sanctuary – we set up the work of sanctuaries and increased their area; legislative – we introduced much harsher penalties for poaching and illegal hunted animal trade.

In a similar vein, we worked with other “participants” in environmental projects: leopards, snow leopards, polar bears, beluga whales and grey whales. We noticed positive changes quickly, and not just in terms of preserving those species. Most importantly, these programmes became the driving force that moved cooperation between the government, businesses and society in the right direction in three regions where these works were carried out.

In my view, this is the only right approach to nature protection activities. After all, it is no accident that we choose rare representatives of Russian fauna. It is much easier to use them as an example to explain the essence of the difficulties. That same tiger is happier living somewhere where there is prey, of which there cannot be too much. This way, we demonstrate that behind the problems of these rare species, there is a specific ecological system with specific issues of its preservation. And this becomes clear not just for experts, but for businesses and citizens as well.

When this role of a driving force played by the rare species became clear, we began to broaden the number of animals included in environmental projects, as well as their geography. Last year, they added the Atlantic walrus, the humpback whale, the eagle, and the Pallas cat; and this year, the European bison will join the list.

Concerning plans for the future, we plan to support studying species that represent not only the uniqueness of Russian nature, but also demonstrate the input of our nation into preserving Eurasia’s biodiversity. In this sense, I would include a species on the edge of extinction like the Saiga antelope – a symbol of the Asian steppes – as well as the sturgeon, whose preservation is of interest to all the nations in the Caspian region, and migratory birds that tie Russia to other nations in Eurasia.

QUESTION: We have grown accustomed to major new projects being implemented every year under the aegis of the Russian Geographical Society; significant studies and expeditions are conducted, some of which you have personally participated in. What bright events can be expected this autumn?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I suppose one of the main events this autumn will be the Russian Geographical Society festival in Moscow. This event is being held for the first time in the society’s history. For one week, starting on October 31, the Central House of Artists will be showcasing everything the Society is doing, including each of its 85 regional offices. We would very much like for as many people as possible to strive to join this work, to share our values and aspirations. After all, generally speaking, the work of the RGS is aimed at instilling a sense of patriotism. It is impossible to work in the Society if you don’t love your Fatherland, your homeland. Formality and greed simply cannot survive here. On the contrary, this work values selfless devotion, initiative, knowledge and persistence. There are already many such people in the RGS. They inspire others not only with their passion, but also their devotion to their Fatherland.

Thus, we have increased the number of new expeditions, and the geography of our archaeological digs is increasing. We have more and more programmes aimed at attracting young researchers and enthusiasts ready to learn about our country to get involved in the RGS’s activities. After all, you do not have to travel beyond the seven seas to feel like a trailblazer. In St Petersburg, for example, an expedition is underway in the Gulf of Finland. It turns out that there are things to study just 150 kilometres from the northern capital.

Festival guests will be able to see not only the results of our projects but also, for example, try on professional explorers’ equipment and speak with legendary Russian researchers.

A ceremony presenting the Russian Geographical Society awards will be held for the first time as part of the Festival. Awards will go to those who devoted their lives to studying Russia, discovering new pages in its history, those who actively promoted our nation’s cultural heritage.

Another important event will be the XV Congress of the Russian Geographical Society, which will be held on October 17 (*) at Moscow State University. In this forum, we will revise the Society’s charter and approve the results of the work carried out by its councils and commissions.

QUESTION: This year, new regional offices of the RGO were added in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. What science and research priorities are you putting before them?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would like to note right away that the historical ties between the Russian Geographical Society and its members with scholars in Crimea and Sevastopol were never severed. The Crimean branch was founded in 1945. And from the very start of its work, it participated actively in the work of what was then the All-Soviet Union Geographical Society.

First and foremost, these were comprehensive expeditions that studied the peninsula’s mountainous areas, coves, shoreline, and marine area. This was important for economic activities and for developing scientific research.

Moreover, there were members from the society’s offices in other regions of our nation working in Crimea. And this joint work that lasted for many years resulted in some very strong professional and personal, friendly ties maintained up to this day. Thus, the Russian Geographical Society office in the Republic of Crimea was created on the initiative of geographers from Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University.

A research programme is currently being developed in those Russian regions with participation by leading experts, including members of the RGS, staff from Moscow State University and many other high-profile organisations.

Today’s priority is the environment. Crimea’s shoreline is about 750 kilometres long. About half of the peninsula’s residents live on the shore. The comfort of their lifestyles, the development of domestic and inbound tourism, health resort treatment for our citizens require a joint approach to issues of environmental safety and rational natural management. In the last 20 years, organisations involved in conservation of the coast have either been entirely closed or significantly reduced.

Our goal is to restore the coastal environment. And it will be impossible without the help of scientists and experts in the field of geography and related science. Sevastopol’s geographers are currently analysing the state of Crimea’s coastal zone. The project received a RGS grant in 2014.

Landscape studies and archaeology, plant geography and soil science, ethnography and regional studies are all equally important for developing Crimea. And naturally, it is critical to engage in extensive educational work on its history, the peoples living here, their traditions and culture. Indeed, all these areas of activity by the RGS have significance for every Russian region.

The Russian Geographical Society has a lofty, important mission, which was defined by its organisers more than a century ago: cultivating Russia’s geography. It cannot be said better or more clearly. Geography – both as a science and a practical activity – always aims for creation and promotes a humane, careful attitude toward the environment. And hundreds of examples of selfless service to the Fatherland that are preserved in the history of the Russian Geographical Society are an inspiring symbol for today’s active participation in the life of the country, for building its successful future.


28.11.2018 - Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin at the Fourth OPCW Review Conference

Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin at the Fourth OPCW Review Conference in response to the USA, United Kingdom and Canada accusing Russia of not observing its obligations under Chemical Weapons Convention. Distinguished Mr. Chair, We consider absolutely unacceptable the groundless accusations voiced in the statement of the United States that Russia is in violation of its obligations under Article I of the CWC pertaining to alleged involvement of Russian nationals in use of a nerve agent in Salisbury. Such statements have absolutely no bearing on the facts and are effectively aired to influence the international community. The refusal of the United Kingdom to cooperate in any form with Russia on the “Skripal case”, which would be in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article IX of the CWC only underlines the emptiness of the accusations. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom has addressed the Technical Secretariat with a request to confirm the outcomes of its own national investigation, which contradicts the goals and objectives of technical assistance provided to a State Party under subparagraph e) of paragraph 38 of Article VIII of the CWC. As follows from the presented materials on the assistance provided in connection to Salisbury and Amesbury cases, we have to state the politically motivated nature of the undertaken measures.

30.10.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with ''Moscow. Kremlin. Putin'' TV programme Moscow, October 25, 2018

Question: Why did US National Security Adviser John Bolton come to Moscow? Sergey Lavrov: To talk. There are many matters we need to discuss. We appreciate it that it is US National Security Adviser John Bolton who is especially proactive regarding ties with his colleagues in Moscow. Question: Is this a joke? Sergey Lavrov: Not at all. Actually, we have meetings with Mr Bolton more often than with our other colleagues. He was here in July, and now he is back again. In between, he met with Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva. We believe that it is important when such a high-ranking official takes interest in the practical matters on our bilateral agenda.

24.10.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's introductory remarks at the opening of the 2nd Russia-UK Raw Materials Dialogue, 24 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, To me as Russian Ambassador to the UK, it is a privilege to address such an important Russian-British conference. The 2nd Russian-UK Raw Materials Dialogue has a great meaning for the professional community in our countries, for it covers a broad range of different topics from mining technologies, new material development and use of natural resources to international academic and scientific exchanges.

27.09.2018 - Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council meeting, September 26, 2018

Mr President, Colleagues, In the modern world, an efficient fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is becoming increasingly important for global and regional stability and the reliable security of all states without exception. Constructive cooperation in this area is an important component of the efforts to shape a positive international agenda. I think everybody agrees that the UN Security Council resolutions that outline specific measures against violations of non-proliferation must be strictly observed. Resolution 1540 remains the basis for this and contains obligations for the member states to take specific measures to prevent non-government agents from accessing weapons of mass destruction and their components. The UNSC decisions taken in pursuance of this resolution are particularly important as they include sanctions for handing over any types of weapons to terrorists. There have been incidents of such handovers and they must be thoroughly investigated.

07.09.2018 - Remarks by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UNSC meeting on the incident in Salisbury

Q: Do you expect British sanctions on Russia soon? A: We are not expecting or afraid of anything. Taking to the account how things have been developing during the recent years we do not exclude anything. This discussion and yesterday’s speech by the British Prime-Minister in the British Parliament are not coincidental. I think that’s looks like a prelude to a new political season. Q: So, Ambassador it’s really coming from the highest level in the UK. A: It always comes from the highest level. Last time when the incident took place it also came from the highest level. Q: But it seems that you are not taking it seriously. A: We are taking it very seriously. We were saying it all the time. Why we’ve been asking for cooperation with the UK from day one. Only few minutes ago Ambassador Pierce was referring to an ultimatum that Boris Johnson made in his letter to the Russian Ambassador in London when the incident took place presented as a request by the British site to cooperate while in fact it was a demand to to accept the gilt. At the same time our requests which we sent to British authorities constantly through OPCW and bilaterally were ignored.

06.09.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show on Channel One, Moscow, September 4, 2018

Question: Today we have a special guest in our studio, one of the main participants in the “great game”, someone the future of the world really depends on in many ways: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We are happy to welcome you in the Great Game studio. Sergey Lavrov: Thanks for inviting me.

22.08.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comment on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's anti-Russian claims

At a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's urges to European partners to slap their own sanctions on Russia in connection with the Salisbury incident.

16.08.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Salisbury Journal"

The Russian Ambassador said he stands together with the people of Salisbury in a meeting with the Journal last week, as the United States announced new sanctions against the country. Speaking at his official residence in Kensington Palace Gardens on Thursday, Alexander Yakovenko said: “We are together with the people of Salisbury.”

24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.

20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.

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