Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning comparisons in Britain between Russian and Saudi Arabia’s reactions to high-profile incidents
Question: After the reports concerning the death of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the British media have been drawing parallels between the actions of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Are there any good reasons for such comparisons?
Answer: We have already stated that we would not be commenting idle talks. It is for journalists, not diplomats, to speculate on this kind of issues.
However, we have taken note of yet another article by Boris Johnson in “The Daily Telegraph”, where he compares the death of Jamal Khashoggi to the so-called poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. In particular, he insists that Saudi Arabia and Turkey should – and rightly so – provide the public with as much information as possible concerning the exact causes of the journalist’s death.
To hear calls for a dialogue and presentation of evidence from Boris Johnson is interesting. It is worth remembering that it was him who, while being Foreign Secretary, advocated a hard line towards Russia after the Salisbury incident, which included a refusal to present any evidence or to cooperate at any official level, and increased sanctions on the basis of political declarations only.
The statements of the former Foreign Secretary highlight the double standards of the UK foreign policy in the best way possible. More than 7 months have passed since the Salisbury incident, but it is still unclear what really happened there, where and in what conditions the affected Russian citizens currently are, and what evidence forms the basis of public accusations against Russia and certain Russian nationals. The investigation has been classified by the British authorities. Domestic and international public have to consume leaks and speculations which are impossible to verify. To date, the Tory government has not answered a single serious question raised by Russia.