16 July 2018
Moscow: 17:43
London: 15:43

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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

13.04.2018

Ambassador Yakovenko’s talking points at the press conference

The Skripal case

-  Nearly six weeks have passed since the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and exactly a month since Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of this crime.

-   The   British   government   still   hasn't   presented   any evidence in support of its position.

-   The   investigation   is   conducted   in   the   most   non-transparent way. The British government refuses to cooperate with the Russian authorities, which have not received a single request for assistance.

-  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is continuously ignoring our legitimate requests and questions concerning the condition of Mr and Ms Skripal and the circumstances of this incident.

-    Without   any   explanation,   the   British   Government continues to violate its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the bilateral Consular Convention. We are not allowed to see our citizens, talk to doctors, have no idea about the treatment the Russian nationals receive.

-  The British authorities consistently deny consular access to Yulia Skripal and her father. We cannot be sure that Yulia's refusal to see us is genuine.

-  The British government continues to conceal information regarding whereabouts of Yulia Skripal, who was discharged from   hospital   and   allegedly  transferred  to   either   a   "safe location",  or a "military base", or a "well-guarded country house".

- We have every reason to see such actions as an abduction of the two Russian nationals or at least as their forcible isolation. The statement made by Scotland Yard on behalf of Yulia only confirms our suspicions.

-  We get the impression that the British Government is deliberately  pursuing  the  policy  of destroying  all  possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making an independent and transparent investigation impossible.

- The cooperation between the UK and the OPCW is non-transparent as well. Instead of using the normal OPCW procedures whereby the UK could have engaged Russia directly or through the OPCW Executive Council, the UK has chosen to cooperate bilaterally with the OPCW Technical Secretariat under an arrangement the details of which are unknown.

 

Murder of Mr Glushkov

- The Embassy is unsatisfied with the current level of interaction with the authorities.

-  On 6 April FCO invited us to contact the Metropolitan Police directly.

-  Last Monday I sent a letter to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ms Cressida Dick with a request for a meeting in order to discuss this case in details. No answer has been received yet.

 

Russia’s position on the OPCW report

-          Russia has received the OPCW report on the Salisbury incident. We will be able to comment on it after our experts study it carefully. At this stage, I have to say, that in order to draw conclusions, we have to look at the chemical and spectral analysis of the samples.

-          Today Russia is going to send an official request to the United Kingdom under Article IX, paragraph 2 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

- Under that Article, States Parties should make every effort to clarify and resolve any matter which may cause doubt about compliance with the Convention through exchange of information and consultations. A State Party which receives a request shall provide a reply within 10 days.

-          It is regrettable that the UK invited OPCW experts under Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which does not provide for direct cooperation between the parties concerned.

-          We have noted yesterday’s statement by Foreign Secretary Johnson, who said that “the OPCW has confirmed the findings of the United Kingdom, and that was a military grade nerve agent – Novichok, and only Russia has the means, motive and record”. This is not the case. Porton Down and now the OPCW have refrained from identifying the source of the substance. This is another reason why the United Kingdom should cooperate with Russia. Such cooperation would raise chances to obtain answers to the question of where this substance came from and who is the perpetrator of this crime.

 

Syria

- The situation in Syria and the military action the US is threatening to undertake along with its UK and French allies are at the focus of our attention today.

- A few words about the reason or rather the pretext for those threats – the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, part of Eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus.

- The Syrian Government has been repeatedly warning for at least a month that rebels prepare to stage a provocation with chemical weapons in this very area.

- Such reports indeed appeared on 7 April, from the notorious “White Helmets”, who receive support from the UK Government and have been proved more than once to be staging attacks and spreading fake reports. Other groups include the Syrian American Medical Society and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, operating from the US and the UK respectively.

- Syrian authorities were immediately blamed by the US and its allies for this so-called “attack”. Again, no tangible proof was presented and no questions asked.

- Why would Damascus use chemical weapons in a situation where peaceful evacuation of militants was underway and the area was being liberated?

- Russian services for chemical and radiological security visited the suspected site of the incident in Douma and did not find any traces of chemical substances there. No persons treated for chemical poisoning were found in local hospitals.

- We are interested in seeing independent experts there, so they can make all the necessary tests. We welcome the OPCW Director-General’s decision to send a fact-finding team to Douma at the request of the Syrian Government. We believe it should be deployed as soon as possible and we are ready to assist in ensuring its safety. Hope they will arrive tomorrow. Any delay may be used to carry out military strikes to cover up all the evidence, or lack thereof, on the ground.

- We would like them to engage in a thorough examination in line with the rules – that means visiting the place of the alleged incident and taking samples, not just remotely studying social media messages and pictures.

- Two draft UN SC resolutions proposed by Russia with the aim to create a neutral investigative mechanism were blocked by the same three permanent Security Council members who are now threatening to act as a prosecutor, a judge and an executor, “punishing” Syria for an alleged “crime” that no one has investigated. It is clear that the goal of these unsubstantiated lies and the new blatant campaign against Syria is to discredit the Syrian government and to justify the possible use of force by external actors.

- Any military action against Syrian Government is against international law, against the Charter of the United Nations.

- The infamous aggression against Iraq in 2003 immediately comes to mind, when the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair deliberately misinformed the Parliament and the public. It is well known how it ended – with Chilcot inquiry delivering a condemnatory verdict.

- We are witnessing very dangerous developments. The current US policies supported almost mechanically by the UK and France are becoming a threat to the peace and security in the region and beyond.

- We urge the international community not to remain idle and to voice concern over the inconsiderate actions the US and its allies are planning to take.

 

Eastern Ghouta and Douma

- As a result of the complex humanitarian operation, over 170 000 people have been evacuated from Eastern Ghouta. More than 40 000 people have left Douma, via safe corridors. Russian military police entered the city yesterday.

- Situation in Eastern Ghouta is stabilizing gradually. Government forces have reclaimed control of Eastern Ghouta. The area is thus almost cleared of terrorists and extremists who have been for years killing and injuring civilians, shelling Damascus. Local residents have already started returning to their homes.

- The evacuation has been monitored by UN experts. The residents who left their homes have been placed in temporary centers and provided with food and basic necessities. The Russian military has delivered 518 tons of humanitarian aid to people in need.

- The withdrawal of civilians and the evacuation of militants are carried out absolutely transparently. The Russian Defence Ministry's website continues to offer live broadcasts from video cameras located in Eastern Ghouta.

- Hostilities in Douma have been ceased for 7 days now. The Russian side continues to negotiate the release of hostages taken by terrorists. As a result of agreements with the Jaysh-al-Islam 195 hostages have already been freed.

* * *

- The current situation throughout Syria urgently requires coordinated international efforts to promote peace, including humanitarian assistance.

-          The poor epidemiologic state of Raqqa remains a source of grave concern.

-          Once again we urge the international community to fulfill its duty and provide assistance to the affected Syrian population.




LATEST EVENTS

14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new invitation of the OPCW experts to the UK

Question: How would you comment on the recent statement of the FCO concerning the new invitation to the OPCW experts to visit the United Kingdom in the framework of the Amesbury incident investigation? Answer: Following the new invitation extended by the UK to the OPCW technical experts “to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent”, which Charles Rowley and Dawn Sturgess have been exposed to, we would like remind of the fact that after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March Russia proposed to the UK to use the mechanisms under Article IX, paragraph 2 of the CWC and carry out a joint investigation.


14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning course of investigation of the Amesbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the recent statements that a small bottle containing nerve agent has been found in Amesbury? Answer: Unfortunately, Russia has no access to any official information concerning both the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and other suspicious incidents in the UK, because the British side refuses to cooperate with us in any way possible. We cannot check or verify any British statements. As for this incident, we have to rely only on public statements, and we are almost sure that the British side will not be informing us directly.


11.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the activity of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down

Question: As early as in April the Russian Embassy requested assistance of the British side in arranging a meeting with Chief Executive of the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Gary Aitkenhead and his colleagues. Have you managed to ascertain whether this secret lab had produced A-234 type agents that were allegedly used against the Skripals? Answer: Sadly, the FCO has ignored our query, which brings us to the conclusion that the British authorities wish to prevent us from communicating with experts who might have some information that is inconvenient for the Conservative government. In his interview to Sky News in April, Mr Aitkenhead himself did not deny the fact that his laboratory had produced and stockpiled nerve agents, including the so-called “novichok”. He added that they “would not be allowed to operate if we had lack of control that could result in anything leaving the four walls of our facility”.


09.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the death of Dawn Sturgess

Q.: How would you comment on the information concerning the death of the British citizen Dawn Sturgess, who, according to the British authorities, was poisoned by the same nerve agent that had been used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal? A.: We would like to express our sincere condolences to relatives and friends of Dawn Sturgess following her tragic death. We hope that the circumstances of her poisoning will be investigated in good faith and in accordance with high international standards, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. As it stands now, the police investigation of the Skripals case is limited by political frameworks imposed by the current government.


06.07.2018 - From the Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, July 5, 2018

Media coverage of the World Cup in Russia The 2018 FIFA World Cup continues to delight with its exciting football contests. Experts and fans are unanimous is their opinion that the matches have been spectacular. There’s no need to even mention the entertainment aspect of the tournament, as fans are clearly having the time of their lives when there are no matches to watch. According to our guests’ posts on social media, the atmosphere is fantastic not only in Moscow, but other host cities as well. We can see that the enthusiasm of the fans is rubbing off on the media, which is great. Indeed, we focus on these matters, because there was so much misinformation. This is not surprising, as it is difficult to make up stories now, because everyone can see everything with their own eyes, and the mudslinging directed at our country before the World Cup doesn’t work anymore.


05.07.2018 - Embassy press officer’s comment on the statement by Ben Wallace

Q: UK Minister of State for Security at the Home Office Ben Wallace stated that he is “waiting for the phone call from the Russian state” to get explanations of the “use of chemical weapons” in Salisbury. What should he expect? A: The Russian Ambassador to the UK is ready to meet Mr Wallace – we have requested meetings at the Home Office and Metropolitan Police several times, in relation to the Skripals case, as well as the murder of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov. In both cases the FCO had suggested the Embassy should contact the police directly. Yet our letters to Scotland Yard met a resounding silence. If the British law enforcement authorities wish to end this silence and finally engaged in a substantial dialogue with Russia as envisaged in the international agreements signed by UK, we will be happy to have the opportunity to ask the many outstanding questions. We await Mr Wallace’s specific proposals as to when he will be available to meet.


05.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question on the "Russian disinformation campaign" in the context of the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

Q: Home secretary Sajid Javid has stated in Parliament that the Russian media are already producing multiple explanations of the incident in Amesbury and that a new disinformation campaign should be expected from the Kremlin. How could you comment on this? A: It is not the first time that British officials are speculating on “disinformation” and “numerous versions” produced by the Russian “pro-government media” regarding the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and now of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley in Amesbury. The Foreign Office has even provided us with the list of 28 “official Russian versions” of the Salisbury incident, among which, for example, they cited the following: “the UK poisoned Ivan the Terrible” and “the operation in Eastern Ghouta is aimed at freeing civilians from terrorists”.


05.07.2018 - Embassy press officer on UK reaction to the Amesbury incident

Q: Can you comment on statements by Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Security Minister Ben Wallace that Russia refuses to cooperate over the Salisbury poisoning and that after the Amesbury incident the Russian state must “come and tell us what happened in Salisbury to keep people safe”? A: All allegations of Russia’s involvement in the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury are merely speculative and are not based on objective data of the investigation. As for the cooperation and information sharing, Russia has from the very outset proposed a joint investigation of the attempted murder of two Russian nationals. The proposal remains on the table. Unfortunately, the British investigation remains totally non-transparent. Our numerous questions on this matter remain unanswered. The UK authorities avoid any contact with the Russian side on this, or any other issues of concern. Moreover, London continues to blatantly violate its international obligations by refusing consular access to the Russian citizens, who remain isolated and are highly likely under duress by secrets service.


04.07.2018 - Answer to media question regarding the invitation of British dignitaries to the FIFA World Cup

Q: According to The Guardian, “Russia has sent out a fresh invitation to Theresa May” to visit the World Cup despite the UK “ministerial boycott”. Can you confirm this? A: No personal invitations for British political figures have been sent out and, consequently, none has been revoked. As we know, the decision not to attend the tournament on official level came from London. Moreover, there were calls in Britain to boycott the World Cup, and the media painted a bleak picture on Russia in the run-up to the event. FIFA World Cup a festival of sports for the whole world. Despite what The Guardian claims, we are not “trying to tempt” anyone in particular, but we’ll be glad to let everybody support their team. This also refers to Britain’s representatives – if UK dignitaries decide to come, they’ll encounter the same hospitality as the England players and supporters.


04.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning Russia’s requests for legal assistance in the two criminal cases related to the murder of Nikolay Glushkov and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal

Q: The Embassy informed about two weeks ago that the British authorities had not provided any answers to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation’s requests for legal assistance in the two criminal cases related to the murder of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov and the attempted murder of the Russian citizen Yulia Skripal. Do you have any update? A: Unfortunately, we have not yet received any reply from the British side on this matter. The Embassy has recently forwarded another Note Verbale to the FCO to remind that in accordance with the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation has already sent three requests for legal assistance in the two criminal cases, namely those related to the murder of Nikolay Glushkov and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal. As suggested by the FCO, we have contacted the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office for any updates on our requests, with no results so far.



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