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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

12.02.2016

Alexander Yakovenko for RT

Russia and the United Kingdom - these two powers, for centuries, have been tied into the most complicated relations: enemies at one time, and yet allies and cooperators at another. But now the temperature between the two is steadily going down, with Britain leading the anti-Russian sanctions and, just recently, coming out with allegations of Moscow’s involvement with a death of former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. What’s pushing London to make such statements? Does the Cold War-like vector of Cameron’s policy resonate with public opinion? How much is this public opinion is shaped by the voice of mainstream media? And, finally, is there a hope for a thaw? We ask the Russian Ambassador to the UK. Alexander Yakovenko is on Sophie&Co today.

Sophie Shevardnadze: Russian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, thank you very much for being with us today. It’s great to finally have you on the show, so - ambassador, the latest report that accused President Putin for the killing of the former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko was far from conclusive, only hypothetically pointing to Moscow’s direct involvement - and we heard words like “probably”, “possibly”, “allegedly”. I mean, they are dominant throughout this document. If this report was largely based on assumptions, why did it receive so much hype in the UK?

Alexander Yakovenko: Basically, the investigation lasted so many years, and the only thing that we read in the press, this is some thoughts about that without any facts. The concluding investigation was secret, it wasn’t for the public, and of course, not for the press. We wanted to take part in this trial, but unfortunately, we were refused. So, our representatives, the representatives of the Russian government couldn’t participate in these hearings. We didn’t have a chance to read the papers and listen to the witnesses. For us, it’s difficult to accept, because it was secret, as I said, and, of course, everybody wanted to know what was the reality with that. All of us know, and that was said by his wife, that he worked for the MI6 and some other secret services, but today, unfortunately, this is the case. You rightly mentioned that in the judgement, it was said “probably”, “maybe” and so on - and that means that the judge wasn’t sure on the conclusions. It was secret, but he wasn’t sure on the conclusions which were made by the court. From my point of view, it’s absolutely unacceptable and this is, probably, the first such kind of trial in Britain. From my point of view it's’ a shame.

SS: The British PM David Cameron said the UK would have to have some sort of relationship with Russia, but said it would be “now done with clear eyes and very cold heart”. Were relations at different before?

AY: After the Litvinenko case we had difficult relations for all this time. There was a sanction regime… There were two elements there: there were restrictions to the visits of the Russian officials to the UK, the Russian officials who were taking part in different events, they couldn’t get the multiple visas and the period of their stay was limited just for a few days - this is first. The second one is that the British, they closed down any cooperation in fight against terrorism, so anti-terrorist cooperation was shut down. From point of view, that’s a big loss for the relations between two countries, but this is just the fact of life. Later on, we had some other restrictions from the British side, but of course they’ve got the reciprocity, and this is just the fact of life and here we are. But, the British side wisely said that they want to keep all the channels open and of course, we support this, and we believe that Britain should drop this policy with Russia…

SS: How so? Do you feel like British officials and diplomats are even able to look at Russia with clear eyes? Without the Cold War perceptions?

AY: I don’t what they mean by “clear eyes”. I would prefer them just look at us pragmatically.

SS: Commenting on the Litvinenko case, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it “regrets the politisation of the criminal case”. Who do you think is responsible for that - the government or the media hype surrounding the case?

AY: Basically, the media was very hostile, and the media wrote different stories. Of course, the regular people in the UK, they are just reading this, and of course, the media created a very negative atmosphere around Russia. We tried to object, but of course, the overwhelming number of the stories, they were anti-russian. This is first, and, by the way, when I was summoned to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the Litvinenko case and had a conversation with a Deputy Minister, they just forgot about the words “maybe”, “probably”, they said that Russia did this. From my point of view, this is absolutely unacceptable and of course, we didn’t accept that.

SS: So you had the revival of the Litvinenko case, we have corruption allegations against Putin in the BBC news show, and a movie portraying the outbreak of the World War III, instigated by Russia, also a product of BBC as well - literally happened one after another. Some in Russia believe the timing was planned. Do you think there’s a chance this is a mere coincidence?

AY: I don’t think this is coincidence. This is part of the big campaign against Russia that we see for years. I think the reason for that is the differences that we have in some big political issues - first, on Syria, and of course, in Ukraine. This is sort of a pressure on Russian policy. It doesn’t work, but this is just the fact of life.




LATEST EVENTS

08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)


25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.


20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.


16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation


25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.


23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.


12.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the exhibition opening (“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” 12 September, British Museum)

Today the British Museum and the State Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg are once again proving their unique world class by bringing a whole new civilization to London. Ancient, and almost mythical, but creative, powerful and very different from what we have all known about antiquity – the Scythians.


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?


03.07.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at breakfast event: Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia (3 July, British Museum)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m happy that Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia exhibition is gaining momentum. We have all seen the excellent teaser reviews in the papers. They are a good sign, but one always expects world class events from the State Hermitage and the British Museum. The public expectations are high and no doubt they will be met.



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