RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #137
During the telephone conversation, Vladimir Putin extended his heartfelt birthday greetings to President of the Republic Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.Current issues of the bilateral agenda were discussed.Earlier the Russian President sent Kassym-Jomart Tokayev a message of greetings.The message reads, in part:“I would like to stress your personal contribution to the advancement of our strategic partnership and the alliance existing between our countries, which has allowed us to step up both bilateral cooperation in various areas as well as constructive interaction in promoting the Eurasian integration processes.I value the comradery that has developed between us. I am confident that our joint efforts will ensure the further growth of comprehensive Russian-Kazakhstani relations for the benefit of our brotherly peoples and in the interests of strengthening regional stability and security.”
Stay Safe & Take Diplomatic Tour to the Palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye.
The palace in the residence near Moscow in Kolomenskoye was erected by decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov. He, the keeper of the Orthodox faith and Russian antiquity, for the first time in the history of national architecture ordered to build the state chambers not according to the traditional principle of the “choir”, but in a European way.
So the boyars saw, and beyond them the foreign ambassadors who were received here, an enfilade of magnificent, shining with gold, painted with marvelous ornamental patterns and decorated with precious overseas fabrics, chandeliers and tapestries, halls. The front canopy, the Chamber of Thrones and the Throne Chamber, the canopy in front of the Dining Room and the Dining Room itself will be the story of them. And the “Russian fairy tale” in a tree will come to life. And it will become clear what the emperor sought, investing a lot of money in the construction of his palace: so that the guests from the East and West, struck by what they saw, spread the news of the wealth and power of the tsar of the Russian land.
Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic at the initiative of the Serbian side.
The heads of state exchanged warm greetings on the 75th anniversary of the Victory over Nazism noting the special significance of this anniversary for the peoples of Russia and Serbia who hold sacred the military brotherhood of the war years.
While discussing the issues of combating the coronavirus pandemic, Aleksandar Vucic, on behalf of all citizens of the Republic, expressed sincere appreciation for the assistance rendered by the joint detachment of the Russian Defence Ministry, which will be completing its humanitarian mission shortly. The importance of continuing coordination between the respective agencies of the two countries’ efforts in fighting the spread of the virus was stressed.
The presidents expressed a mutual commitment to step up the Russian-Serbian strategic partnership and multifaceted cooperation, including joint projects in energy, transport and technology.
It was agreed to further maintain a regular dialogue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his new term in office and expressed the hope that his new government will continue to develop friendly ties and mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday.
"I highly appreciate relations between our countries, which make it possible to discuss in detail and in a business-like manner any issues of the bilateral and international agenda, including the most difficult ones. I hope that your new government will continue the policy towards the development of friendly ties and mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries. No doubt, it is in the interests of the peoples of Russia and Israel and is in line with the efforts to ensure peace, security and stability," the telegram says.
The USSR established diplomatic relations with Israel on May 26, 1948, and the Soviet diplomatic mission arrived in Tel-Aviv on August 9, 1948. The Soviet envoy to Israel presented his letters of credence to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on August 17, 1948. The Soviet Union supported Israel’s application to join the United Nations, as well as a number of other international organisations.
The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) of November 29, 1947, which recommended the creation of Jewish and Arab states in Palestine.
Bilateral diplomatic relations between the USSR and Israel went through a crisis that lasted many years, and were finally restored in full on October 18, 1991. In December 1991, Israel opened its embassy in Moscow, and the Russian embassy opened in Tel-Aviv.
The fact that a large community of descendants from the former Soviet Union (about 1.5 million) lives in Israel is a major factor in relations between the two countries.
Today, Russia and Israel maintain a proactive political dialogue, engage in regular political consultations, and exchange delegations at various levels, including at the high and the highest levels.
Sergey Lavrov:We cooperate closely with the Israelis at the UN and other international organisations to uphold the historical truth and prevent the glorification of Nazism, any manifestations of intolerance and similar misanthropic ideologies.
President Putin: We all understand the power of genetic technology. For this rea son, we need to build a system for supervising its use. Working together with those involved in the programme, we need to balance the freedom of research, technological development and interests of the people with the imperative to protect their interests and comply with ethical norms.
Today we open eight new multifunctional medical centres built by the Defence Ministry to help coronavirus patients. The first such centre, in Nizhny Novgorod, opened on April 17, and then seven more were commissioned on April 24 and 30. In just two months, as planned – honestly, it was hard to believe, but we managed to do it – as many as 16 Defence Ministry centres have been created and fitted out with the necessary equipment, all across the country, from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka. They were built in record-breaking time and to a high standard.
IN SPACE WE TRUST
Ambitious projects connected with Moon colonization could become a major factor of interaction between Russia and the US during these difficult times, says Roscosmos Deputy Director General for International Cooperation Sergey Saveliev.
‘I regret that the recent years have seen direct communication channels between Roscosmos and NASA deteriorate significantly. Instead of discussing dozens of projects of mutual interest everything boils down to either launching astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the crewed program or supplying Russian RD-180/181 rocket engines to the US. Ambitious projects connected with Moon colonization could become a major factor for interaction between the two countries during difficult times.’
Sergey Saveliev added that Roscosmos delegation had been officially invited to the US to discuss a wide range of questions, ‘but in the long run NASA head Jim Bridenstine’s invitation was withdrawn under the pressure of the Senate.’
‘We officially invited NASA management to Russia but didn’t receive any answer. I hope it will follow and will be a positive one,’ Saveliev says.
Question: Regarding the situation with the Financial Times and The New York Times… Why such a harsh reaction to allegations that official Russian [Covid-19] statistics might not be absolutely correct?
Sergey Lavrov: … it should be dealt with basically by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor). Under the Russian law On Information, Information Technologies and the Protection of Information, Roskomnadzor has taken relevant legal actions. Let’s wait for a response.
I am essentially against ostracising journalists but they definitely should bear responsibility for their reports. You know what measures have been taken against the RT channel in London by Ofcom, their version of our Roskomnadzor, for covering events in Syria exclusively from the Russian viewpoint. RT’s requests to provide any materials showing the outlet’s bias in covering the developments in Syria were left unanswered. But the channel was fined 200,000 pounds.
I think the issue of information reliability deserves special attention and a universal approach. Today the situation is like this. The Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists was established at UNESCO some time ago. Suddenly they set up some sort of movement which declares itself to be the creator of traditions and the keeper of standards of freedom of the press. I don’t think this is quite right. Journalists can and should set up associations and promote certain concepts, but it is a bit too much when they claim to be possessors of the ultimate truth and that everyone should follow these standards. The same is true of France’s initiative to consider issues of freedom of cyberspace and information reliability within some movement set up outside universal structures.
There are problems of course. Accusations based on “highly likely” arguments now haunt many newsworthy events, whether it’s the Skripal case, the Malaysia Airlines crash, Brexit, or the Catalonia referendum. We were accused of interference in all these processes and of organising some of them. Now in Prague: “A Russian diplomat carried deadly poison in his suitcase.” The secret services knew about it but they let him in. Any authority who knows of someone carrying deadly poison and lets him enter their country should be in prison. Where is the poison now, according to the Czech special services? I don’t know.
Another case in point from the same “highly likely” category. Suddenly, the Bundestag announced that five years ago the German special services discovered, while conducting an investigation, that a hacker attack had been launched against the Bundestag and against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal email. This was allegedly done by Russians. Five years have passed, and we have not been given a single concrete fact. Let’s look across the Atlantic. In 2013, Edward Snowden published classified documents from the US National Security Agency. They absolutely and unequivocally showed that this agency wiretapped, through its representatives in Germany, Angela Merkel among others. This fact was established and acknowledged by the German authorities. The head of the NSA office in Germany was deported. A year later, the Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor announced that the case was closed since the charges could not be proved in court. There are facts but they are impossible to prove. In Russia’s case there are no facts but everything is “proved” very easily. This is the problem with the information space when it comes to facts.
Regarding the coronavirus statistics. I assure you that the Russian authorities are less interested in hiding the truth than anyone. This is no joke, it is a matter of people’s lives. I think it is inadmissible to play with them just as it is inadmissible to use the situation to slander a certain country. Bloomberg, which picked up the Financial Times and The New York Times stories wrote in their headline that there is no answer as to “why the coronavirus hasn’t killed more Russians.” We are now in a situation where journalists working for the media are trying to use even the most serious and tragic events for geopolitical games. They want to please someone and to infuriate someone else. But one needs to be very careful in terms of abiding by the law and the code of journalism ethics.
It came to light today that President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky signed an executive order to extend the ban on access to Russian websites and social media platforms in Ukraine for another three years. We are talking about unilateral restrictions imposed by Kiev in 2017 against more than 1,228 individuals, the vast majority of whom are Russian citizens, as well as 468 Russian online resources, social media and IT companies, including Yandex, Yandex.Ukraine, Mail.ru, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, Kaspersky Lab and Doctor Web, to name a few.
Once again, the Ukrainian leaders have shown in practice that they do not plan to revise their discriminatory and illegal policies regarding Russian media resources.
We regard this step as an act of outright censorship aimed at mopping up the country's information space in order to remove alternative points of view. Such actions constitute a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law such as freedom of expression and equal access to information.
The blocking of Russian online resources is only a small fraction of the arbitrary actions in Ukraine regarding the media. Journalistic activities have long been associated with risk to life and freedom in Ukraine. Kiev is pursuing a policy of reprisals against the media as it tightens legislation and state regulation of the media space, as well as applying administrative and other forms of pressure on journalists. In addition, the murders of a number of media representatives in that country, including the crimes in 2014, which took the lives of Andrey Stenin, Anton Voloshin, Igor Kornelyuk and Anatoly Klyan, remain without investigation.
We also consider Kiev’s continued pandering to the unlawful activities of the extremist website Myrotvorets unacceptable; this poses a direct threat to the safety of journalists.
We urge the relevant international organisations and human rights NGOs, including the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, to respond appropriately to this, and we urge Kiev’s European and overseas partners to explain in what way the Ukrainian authorities’ policy is consistent with democratic values and principles.
The Pskov Region is an ideal place for both an inquisitive traveler and an idle hedonist. The nature has generously given it picturesque terrains, majestic hills, transparent lakes, mixed forests and even taiga.
Pskov, the principal city of the region, has a lot of places of interest. A powerful stonework of the walls and towers of the Pskov Kremlin brings back a lot of ancient stories. The picture gallery of Pskov, with its works of famous Russian artists, is obviously worth an unhurried and thoughtful visit.
The Pskov region is inextricably linked with one of the greatest Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin. There is Pushkin museum-preserve that includes Mikhailovskoye (his mother’s ancestral home) where he was exiled to in 1824-1826, Petrovskoye (an ancestral estate of the Gannibals, his forefathers) and Svyatogorsky monastery, the last earthly refuge of the poet.
- Coronavirus update and helping Russians return home
- Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the ministerial session of the Council of the Baltic Sea States
- Compatriots’ activities to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War
- UNSC Arria-Formula videoconference
- “Syrian chemistry” in New York City
- Statements by US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea on the New START Treaty
- Desecration of a Soviet tomb in Poland
- Western media’s anti-Russia allegations over coronavirus statistics
Question: Some time ago the United States proposed fighting the Islamic State terrorist group in south-western Syria. Has the US made any specific proposal to Moscow regarding this? How does Washington intend to fight ISIS in that part of Syria?
Oleg Syromolotov: I would like to remind you that the fundamentals of Russian-US understanding regarding the war on ISIS were put forth in the joint statement adopted by President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam on November 11, 2017. The document said, in part, that Russia and the United States “confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria” and would continue to cooperate there “until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved.” The presidents also agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals (de-confliction efforts) to help ensure the safety of both US and Russian forces. Russia and the United States have maintained this cooperation, which has allowed them to effectively prevent dangerous incidents and helped Russia, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies, on the other, to continue fighting ISIS.
As for south-western Syria, a de-escalation zone was established there some time ago, in 2017. The guarantor countries were Russia, Jordan and the United States. It was a breakthrough in the efforts to reduce violence on the ground, introduce a ceasefire and improve humanitarian access to the region. In summer 2018, the zone was eliminated thanks to a successful operation by the Syrian government forces with the support of Russia’s Aerospace Forces. Damascus resumed control of the south-western region, liquidated the terrorist hotbed there, including ISIS units, and restored the status quo in the Golan Heights where the UN peacekeeping force (UNDOF) resumed operations.
The terrorist raids launched by ISIS there have been cut short by the Syrian army, which has sufficient resources for this.
One of the Salekhard’s visitcards on the Arctic Circle is the 100-meter high Fakel Bridge. It is laid across the Shaitanka River, which divides the city into two parts, linking the center of Salekhard with its historical areas.
The Panorama Restaurant is located on the bridge at high of 70 meters - another must-see point for Salekhard guests. There are unforgettable views of the city and the Polar Ural opens through the panoramic windows of the elevators and the restaurant.
Restaurant visitors can enjoy unique Northern cuisine: sliced fish and meat, lightly salted muksun, fish soup and caviar of the northern fish, venison.
STUDY IN RUSSIA
The Russian Health Ministry and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education enlisted the help of senior medical students in fighting the pandemic. Starting from May 1, students have been having practice at hospitals which treat COVID-19 patients. Health authorities plan to rally more than 40,000 future doctors.
We noted a briefing by Henry Wooster, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Maghreb and Egypt, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and Christopher Robinson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, on May 7, during which critical remarks were made about Russia’s “destructive role” in Libyan affairs. Russia was accused of deliberately “fomenting the Libyan conflict” and using “hybrid tactics,” specifically, combining military force and disinformation. However, the remark that Moscow allegedly interferes with Washington’s “peacekeeping efforts” in Libya came as a real surprise.
In this regard, we would like to note that the United States is directly responsible for the Libya crisis which continues to this day. In 2011, in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, the United States, in conjunction with its NATO allies, launched an armed aggression against the Libyan Jamahiriya which included destroying state institutions and security agencies in the country while unbalancing interregional and tribe-to-tribe relations.
After the Gaddafi government was toppled, the United States, in fact, disassociated itself from Libyan issues and the collective efforts to promote a comprehensive political settlement of the situation in that country. Washington’s passive approach towards preparing and holding the International Conference on Libya held in Berlin in January is the latest manifestation of this policy.
As you may know, Russia was against NATO’s reckless venture in Libya and was not involved in the country’s destruction. Nevertheless, from the outset of the dramatic events in Libya, we have been taking energetic steps to normalise the situation both within the multilateral formats under UN auspices and on a bilateral basis. We maintain constructive contact with all Libyan parties and try to convince them of the futility of attempts to resolve the existing differences through military means. We encourage them to hold a dialogue and to consider compromises. As you may recall, the truce announced by the participants of the intra-Libyan conflict at the initiative of the presidents of Russia and Turkey on January 12 created a favourable background for holding the above Berlin conference.
The briefing by the US State Department’s representatives is bewildering not only in its blatantly biased accusations against us, but also in its disrespect for elementary diplomatic ethics. We would like to note that on December 10, 2019, during Sergey Lavrov’s working visit to Washington, Russia proposed holding an expert dialogue with the United States on the range of issues of mutual interest with a view to reaching a political settlement in the Libya crisis. We did not receive a clear response at that time or later. We do not want to think that the above briefing was a kind of “response” to our proposal.
Doctors in Moscow outpatients’ clinics and hospitals are using AI technology to diagnose the coronavirus. Over a period of two weeks it was possible to process about 30,000 CT scans.
Moscow’s municipal authorities plan to step up the number of enzyme immunoassay (EIA) antibody tests to 100,000 a day. In the future, the number of these antibody tests carried out in Moscow may climb to 200,000 a day, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said Thursday. This will help determine the tactics and strategy of Moscow’s healthcare system in order to adequately make decisions related to restrictive measures in Moscow.
The program that is being launched in Moscow envisages mass screening of city residents for antibodies to the novel coronavirus.
Question: The Ukrainian defence attaché sent to veterans from the former USSR republics living in the USA messages to mark Memorial and reconciliation day and the day of Victory over Nazism in World War II celebrated in his country on May 8–9. Could you comment on the attacks against Russia in these messages?
Ambassador Antonov: We saw these texts in English and Ukrainian (there are even no holiday greetings). We received them from perplexed and outraged veterans and their family members, who have nothing to do with modern Ukraine. It makes look even more cynical the attempt of the Embassy of this country in their addresses to the victors to draw a parallel between the defeat of Nazism in 1945 and the six-year intra-Ukrainian conflict, which the author would like to win militarily in violation of the Minsk agreements. I note that his fellow countrymen almost daily shell Donbass and the veterans living there, and in Washington he blames it on Russia.
One could ignore this pasquil of the Ukrainian military. And, probably, this would be appropriate in order not to draw attention to the dirty accusations against my country. However, this character touched upon the underlying problems of today's perception of the Great Victory. Moreover, all this happens in the days when the whole planet celebrates the significant date of the 75th anniversary of our (I emphasize) common Victory in the struggle against fascism. There is one more factor that made us respond to these anti-Russian attacks. Unfortunately, in the USA there are many people who see the current situation in the same negative light. Lots of people here do not even know when the World War II started, what countries participated, when the United States entered the war and even who won.
It is difficult to comment on the approaches of Ukrainian diplomacy to the issue of Victory in general that are devoid of any logic. There are attempts to fit into the chorus of those who put the USSR - the main force that defeated Nazism at the cost of the tremendous losses - on the same footing with Hitler Germany, those who argue that it was the "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact" of 1939, and not the Munich conspiracy of Western democracies with Hitler and Mussolini in 1938, which helped usher in World War II.
It looks tragicomic. The notorious leaflet (you can’t even name it differently) cites the slogan proclaimed by Vyacheslav Molotov “The enemy will be defeated! Victory will be ours". On a single day, the Ukrainian embassy blames Russia for allegedly downplaying the contribution of other republics to our common Victory and demonstrated a video of the USSR People's Commissar for Defence Semyon Timoshenko, native Ukrainian, greeting German officers at the pre-war parade, which is supposed to “compromise” the Soviet Union.
We do not separate the heroes of the Great Patriotic War and veterans, we remember everyone. This is our common story. It can’t be otherwise. Pilot Ivan Kozhedub and sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko (she came to our Embassy as part of a U.S. tour in 1942), are common heroes who fought for a single Soviet homeland.
A simple example: during the war, the USSR diplomatic mission in Washington was headed by three ambassadors - Konstantin Umansky (born in Nikolaev, modern-day Ukraine), Maxim Litvinov (in Bialystok, modern-day Poland) and Andrei Gromyko (near Gomel, modern-day Belarus). We do not repudiate any of them. We honor Andrei Andreyevich together with Belarusian friends. Ukrainians never talk about Umansky neither do Poles about Litvinov. They exercise such a selective and situational approach everywhere.
Question: How do you explain such behavior of the Ukrainian representatives?
Anatoly Antonov: The main reason is to represent Russia as an enemy (I emphasize that we have never considered the Ukrainian people as hostile to the Russians. Ukrainians are our brothers. And this is not a slogan, this is my perception of the situation. I strongly believe that whoever tries to separate Ukraine from Russia, will ultimately lose. The opponents of our friendship will not achieve the desired result - to force Ukrainians and Russians to live within “national domains”. Years will pass, Russia and Ukraine will live peacefully, brotherly, as it was for many years).
Secondly, to remind of themselves. As of "victims". Many people are getting tired of the Ukrainian issue here. Previously unknown to a wide American audience, inconvenient facts about the Maidan overthrow, which cast doubt on the image of the “revolution of dignity,” began to emerge in the pro-Republican news media. People begin to understand what Crimea drifted away from and why the Donbass rebelled.
Thirdly, to prevent the Western press from spreading the truth about the glorification of the Nazi minions from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Armythe (UPA) who were guilty of massacres of civilians (Poles, Jews, Belarusians, Russians) and Soviet POWs. A set of reports on a leading American TV-channel about Ukraine’s “banderization” - dozens of monuments, signs on schools in honor of criminals guilty of the Holocaust, renaming of streets in honor of the SS officers - can put an end to the support of Kiev by Western sponsors.
Shots of the “1st Galician SS division” veterans giving a Nazi salut in Ukraine and the SS Division Totenkopf insignia worn by modern-day Kiev warriors are too much even for tolerant Washington. Continued funding of Ukrainian armed groups, including neo-Nazis from Azov, in such conditions does not correlate with the image of the “beacon of world democracy".
The letter says: "We are proud to have a 38-year sister city relationship with the Hero City of Novorossiysk, which played a crucial role in saving the world from fascism".
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HAVE A NICE WEEK!