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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

28.11.2015

Bonds forged by the great game of football can help defeat terrorism (by Consul General Andrey Prisepov for Herald Scotland)

Two weeks ago, we all followed a rather special football game at Wembley: England playing France just days after the attacks in Paris. The innocent victims of these inhuman assaults were remembered with dignity and poignant tribute was paid by players and supporters. Thousands of people shared their passion for the great game and, equally, showed their compassion in a manifestation of unity and solidarity.

Once again football embodied human spirit and an affirmation of life. History has numerous examples of what seems to be the inherent qualities of the game. Herald readers may have watched the 1980s film Escape to Victory starring Michael Caine. In the movie, allied prisoners of war play football against their Nazi guards, knowing they will be shot should they win.

The film was based on true story of Nazi-occupied Kiev in the summer of 1942. Local FC Dynamo players, some of them POWs, had to play against troops representing a Nazi regime holding almost all of Europe hostage. And they won.

The final game against Wehrmacht soldiers, dubbed the "Death Match", ended 5-3. Kiev players knew that victory would cost them lives but they didn’t hold back in seeking and securing a victory. They were sent to Nazi death camps and never returned.

Meanwhile, in 1942, in besieged, starving Leningrad another Dynamo, with all players in defending their city, played teams from local factories. Exhausted by hunger and cold, they kept playing football, braving the bombs and shells.

Some players who fell did not get up. Matches were shortened. In May 1942, just after the Great Siege’s deadliest winter, when Dynamo Leningrad beat a local factory team 6-0, one player said: "It was a victory for all of us: victory over ourselves, over fear, over despair. Victory over a cruel, relentless winter … that devastated the city, but didn’t break the survivors. It didn’t break the most important, the will to live." A return game was contested by fellow Leningraders and ended in a draw. Football was played regularly until the end of the devastating siege.

Soon after, in the spring of 1943, yet another FC Dynamo, from Stalingrad, played a game literally on the ruins of their home city, which had just survived the war’s fiercest battle. Locals hosted Spartak Moscow. Muscovites even brought kits for their hosts as nothing was left intact in Stalingrad apart from human spirit. Dynamo won 1-0, proving that life was returning to a levelled but victorious city.

The final chapter of this FC Dynamo-themed football epic brings us back to the present, as today is the 70th anniversary of another historic match. It wasn’t the game that was played against the odds. To the contrary, it was the game between two victor nations that won the deadliest war in mankind’s history with sacrifices beyond imagination.

On November 28, 1945 Glasgow Rangers hosted Dynamo Moscow. The war was over and our countries had to think about healing wounds and rebuilding our countries. To celebrate the war-time alliance, Dynamo travelled to Britain for four games. They played Chelsea first (a 3-3 draw), then beat Cardiff (10-1) and Arsenal (4-3). The match against Rangers was the grand finale.

Players on both sides impressed each other. The Scots recognised their opponents' individual strength, ability to play as a team and their passing skills. Soviet players noted: "We must learn from the British footballers … their technique, the way they control ball … their sniper shots at goal."

The score was meaningful: a 2-2 draw. "Friendship wins", as we say in Russia. And, indeed, friendship had won well before: when Allied convoys departed from Greenock for Murmansk; when Soviet pilots were stationed in Montrose; and when submariners operated from Dundee. These joint efforts helped our nations to defeat the greatest evil, to win victory for the human spirit over death and terror. It’s good to remember, 70 years on, this friendship of Auld Lang Syne; friendship personified by football, the great game uniting us when we face a common threat again. While we grieve over the innocent victims of a downed Russian passenger jet and attacks on boisterous Paris streets, we must think of tomorrow. We are all at war against terrorism. To defeat this evil, we should stop political posturing and put our future in our own hands, acting as a single, united and determined football team. Russia is ready to join the side.

Original: http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14109788.display/




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Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.


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14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone's sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?


14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone\'s sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?



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