Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions.
Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.
Throughout recent months the Conservative government has been acting in a completely unconstructive way by breaching multiple bilateral and international agreements and refusing to cooperate with Russian officials either on the Salisbury incident, or the death of the Russian national Nikolay Glushkov in London.
The British authorities have hastily classified the materials of different criminal cases concerning suspicious deaths of Russian citizens in the UK, including Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Perepilichny.
At the same time, the UK refuses to extradite to Russia more that 60 persons charged in Russia with money laundering, fraud and other criminal offences, including murders.
We do not accept the arguments of the British side that the rights of these persons could be violated, if they are extradited. The experts of the British Ministry of Justice have visited Russia many times to examine detention conditions in Russia, and issued positive final reports, but the official position remains unchanged.
Bilateral high-level political dialogue is currently frozen. The traditional bilateral ministerial meeting in New-York did not take place this year.
As you know, the British government declared 23 members of our diplomatic staff personae non gratae, and we had to take reciprocate measures and expelled 23 British diplomats from Russia.
At the same time, the British authorities have taken a political decision to create difficulties for proper functioning of our diplomatic missions in the UK.
We had to answer to these unfriendly steps, so currently UK missions in Russia are in the same situation as a result of Conservative government’s unconstructive approach.
Despite this, there are positive things. In 2017 and the first half of 2018 we have witnessed a sustainable revival of trade and economic ties between our countries.
In 2017, our bilateral trade grew by almost 23% (to 12.8 bn. US dollars) and from January to June 2018 it increased by a further 19%, to 6.9 bn. US dollars, as compared to the same period of the previous year.
We see that British businesses are willing to strengthen cooperation with Russia, understanding that it would be beneficial for our peoples.
We hope that the Annual Russian-British Business Forum, which will be held in London on 26 November, will be a huge success and will further confirm the positive trends in bilateral trade relations.
In education and science, Russia and the UK have managed to sustain normal relations. Cultural cooperation is steadily growing as well. The success of the exhibition “The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution” is currently enjoying at the Science Museum confirms the mutual interest of our nations in each other’s culture and history.
We hope that such positive interaction continues in future as it is in the interests of both Russia and the UK.
I am ready to answer your questions.