28 May 2018
Moscow: 04:29
London: 02:29

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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

11.05.2018

Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question concerning the situation with consular access to Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Q. Russia has on numerous occasions accused the UK of violating consular conventions as regards access to the Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal. How does this correlate with the need to obtain their consent for such communication while, according to the British authorities, the Skripals do not want to speak to the Russian representatives?

A. The British side has informed us that Yulia Skripal is allegedly unwilling to communicate with the Embassy. It has refused consular access to Sergei Skripal citing his British citizenship. The British authorities claim that Russian nationals must absolutely provide their consent to communicate with consular officers.

We cannot accept such position. In Russia-UK bilateral relations, any communication between citizens and consular officers is regulated by the Consular Convention between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of 1965. According to its Article 36, “a consular officer shall be entitled within the consular district to communicate with, interview and advise a national of the sending State and may render him every assistance”. As one may see, Article 36 does not contain any reference to the requirement of a person’s consent for a consular visit.

In other terms, such communication is not just a right of a person, but also a right of a consular officer and, thus, a right of the sending State. This right of Russia is being grossly violated by the UK.

Such wording of the Convention is not accidental. A State violating the rights of a foreign national could have easily referred to his/her reluctance to seek protection by a consular officer. The authors of this agreement rightly determined that such reference cannot justify the refusal for communication between a citizen and a consul. The situation with Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a fine example of relevance of such logic of the Convention.

Article 36 also states that “in any case where a national of the sending state has been arrested or is held under any other form of detention… the consular officer shall have the right to visit and to communicate with him without delay”. In accordance with the official comments of the UN International Law Commission, this provision “applies also to other forms of detention (quarantine, detention in a mental institution)”. As the British authorities conceal Yulia Skripal from the public and make official statements on her behalf, such situation is obviously covered by this article.

As for the reference of the British authorities to Sergei Skripal’s British citizenship, it is also unacceptable for us, and that for the following reason. In accordance with Article 30 of the bilateral Consular Convention, “the term “national” shall mean any person whom the sending State recognises as its national”. Sergei Skripal was not stripped of his Russian citizenship (this is prohibited by the Russian Constitution) and did not withdraw from it voluntarily. He remains a Russian national and enjoys full right to communicate with Russian consular officers, and Russia enjoys full right to communicate with him as well. As we understand, the UK follows the same approach in its discussions on consular cases with dual citizens, for example in Iran.

Of course, we do not intend to impose our assistance to our citizens. They are free people. But, considering all circumstances, it is important for us to get assured of their well-being. We are not satisfied with the statements of the British officials that Yulia Skripal does not want to communicate with us. How can we be sure that she has genuinely expressed such will?

We intend to continue to demand an opportunity to communicate with the Skripals in person. If they don’t require our assistance, they can inform us directly. But if the British authorities continue to refuse to facilitate such a meeting, it will mean that the Skripals either have been forcibly isolated, or their condition is different from the one described in official statements.

On 10 May 2018 these positions were conveyed by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Dr Alexander Yakovenko, during his meeting with Director General, Consular and Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Philip Barton.




LATEST EVENTS

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25.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question concerning current state of the investigation of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Q: Did Yulia Skripal’s video statement of 23 May provide answers to the questions raised by Russia in relation to the Salisbury incident? A: Unfortunately, no, it didn’t.


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25.05.2018 - Embassy press officer’s comment on the Skripal case

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24.05.2018 - The Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2018

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23.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer comments on Yulia Skripal’s video address

We are glad to have seen Yulia Skripal alive and well. The statement she read out contains new information. However, the video shown only strengthens our concerns as to the conditions in which she is being held. Obviously, Yulia was reading a pre-written text. More than that, judging by quite a few elements, the text was a translation from English and had been initially written by a native English-speaker.


21.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning a new report on Russia by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee

Q: Today the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published a report “Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK”. How would you comment on that? A: We are carefully studying this report and its recommendations. Meanwhile, one cannot help but notice at first sight that it is another anti-Russian undertaking by the parliamentary committee aimed at supporting the UK claims to play a leading role in the Western bloc to “deter Russia”. The 2015 National Security Strategy, Prime Minister’s Banquet Speech in November 2017, unsubstantiated accusations against Russia of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the “fusion doctrine” outlined on 1 May by National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill are all integral parts of the reckless policy of UK political leadership against Russia.


21.05.2018 - Embassy’s press Secretary answers media question on the detention of the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky in Ukraine

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18.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question about Sergei Skripal’s discharge from the hospital

Question: According to the recent reports, Sergei Skripal was discharged this morning from the hospital in Salisbury. How could you comment on that? Answer: We are satisfied that the treatment Sergei Skripal received was successful and he is well enough to leave the hospital. We wish him full recovery.


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Vladimir Putin held talks with President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad in Sochi.



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