Briefing of the Foreign Ministry Spokesman

23 June 202120:20

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, June 23, 2021

Table of contents

  1. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov’s visit
  2. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi
  3. Upcoming meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad
  4. Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Foreign Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif Al Zayani
  5. Foreign travel during the coronavirus pandemic
  6. Border violation in the Black Sea by a UK destroyer
  7. The 20th anniversary of the SCO
  8. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s statement that “Washington will not warn Russia about cyberattacks”
  9. Remarks by Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at Bundswehr Academy
  10. New package of illegal EU sanctions against Belarus
  11. The so-called Navalny case
  12. Developments in the Republic of Chad
  13. The Pompidou Group adopts a new Statute
  14. June 22 commemorative events for the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War at Russian overseas missions
  15. The International Forum of Russian Compatriots June 22, 1941, Victory Will Be Ours
  16. 80th anniversary of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency

Answers to media questions:

  1. Opening air travel with Turkey
  2. Russia’s response to the violation of its state border by the UK
  3. Peacekeeping in the South Caucasus
  4. Results of the parliamentary elections in Armenia
  5. Activities of Russian compatriots

 

 

 

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov’s visit

 

On June 25, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov will have talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his visit to Russia. This is his first visit in this capacity.

In particular, the parties are expected to focus on the oppression of Russian speakers in Ukraine and the Baltics, including in the context of the discriminatory legislative initiatives of Riga, Tallinn and Kiev, raise the issue of the political persecution in these countries of nongovernmental organisations’ activists who defend the rights of national minorities, and discuss the problems faced by Russian news agencies and local Russian-language media.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

 

On June 28, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who will pay a working visit to Russia. This is already his second visit to our country in this capacity. His first visit was in 2017.

The officials will discuss a broad range of issues on international efforts to protect refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and stateless persons, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and different aspects of the UNHCR’s cooperation with Russia.

They will focus on potential cooperation with the UNHCR to help refugees and IDPs return to Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas, mobilise the international community to facilitate the repatriation of Syrian refugees, assist refugees and IDPs from Donbass, and eliminate large-scale statelessness in the Baltic states.

We consider the UNHCR an effective UN agency in providing assistance to refugees, IDPs and stateless persons. It is in charge of 83 million people and has broad representation in 135 countries, including Russia.

Russia is a stable UNHCR donor. In accordance with its resolution adopted in 2004, the Russian Government makes an annual voluntary contribution of $2 million to the UNHCR programme.

The High Commissioner’s visit to Russia is bound to facilitate the further development of comprehensive and multilateral cooperation with the UNHCR.

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Upcoming meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad

 

On July 1, a regular meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad is scheduled at the Foreign Ministry; it will be chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Members of the Government Commission, including representatives of respective federal and regional executive authorities, State Duma deputies and senators of the Russian Federation, and the heads of several public organisations and foundations will attend the meeting.

The commission plans to discuss the preparations for the 7th World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad (Moscow, October 15-16, 2021), to approve a comprehensive plan of measures to implement the Russian state policy on compatriots for 2021-2023, to review the state monitoring results in relations with compatriots conducted by Russian foreign missions in 2020, to learn about the experience of the Moscow city Government and the Association of Lawyers of Russia in working with the Russian diaspora, and other topics.

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Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Foreign Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif Al Zayani

 

On July 2, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet, in Moscow, with Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain Abdullatif Al Zayani, who will be in Russia on a working visit.

The upcoming talks between the two foreign ministers will help them maintain the trust-based political dialogue on regional and international matters and allow them to discuss current issues to further develop relations between Russia and Bahrain.

In this context, special attention will be given to ways of increasing their mutual trade and investment partnership more regularly, providing an impetus to the activities of the Russian-Bahraini Intergovernmental Commission for Cooperation in Trade, the Economy, Science and Technology, and stepping up interregional and cultural ties, and contacts in education and healthcare. The ministers will also touch on issues of improving the legal framework for bilateral relations.

Sergey Lavrov and Abdullatif Al Zayani will thoroughly coordinate approaches to the situation in Syria, the Arab-Israeli peace process, the prospects for lasting stability in the Persian Gulf area and other important aspects on the regional agenda, and they will discuss key issues of interaction between Russia and Bahrain in the UN and other multilateral forums.

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Foreign travel during the coronavirus pandemic

 

Russian citizens are planning vacations and many want to travel abroad. To start with, we strongly recommend following the information from the Emergency Response Centre to prevent the import and spread of the coronavirus infection in Russia. When planning and taking their trips, we advise our citizens to follow the information accessible on the websites of the Foreign Ministry, including our Consular Service, as well as the websites and official accounts of our embassies abroad.

As a reminder, we have a mobile application, “Foreign Assistant,” that is accessible on all platforms. It carries prompt updates on related news.

We would like to ask Russian citizens to be ready for potential changes in the epidemiological and logistics situation abroad, including the criteria for cross-border travel. The Foreign Ministry’s recommendations are published on its information sites and pages and remain current.

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Border violation in the Black Sea by a UK destroyer

 

The Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation has already given a professional evaluation of the dangerous actions by a UK destroyer in the Black Sea.

We qualify this action as a crude provocation by the British that contradicts both international and Russian law.

The UK’s Ambassador will be summoned by the Foreign Ministry.

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The 20th anniversary of the SCO

 

This year, the SCO marks its 20thanniversary. The declaration on the establishment of the SCO was adopted by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on June 15, 2001, in order to reinforce mutual trust, friendship and neighbourliness, and encourage effective multidisciplinary cooperation.

In a historically short time, the SCO has established itself as an authoritative participant in international relations and a reliable and predictable partner. Its activities are based on non-alignment and are not directed against third states. The SCO is firmly committed to the fundamental principles of international law as enshrined in the UN Charter, and strictly adheres to a policy of openness, equality, mutual trust and benefit.

Today, almost a half of the world's population is living within the SCO space, which brings together18 member states, observers and dialogue partners, and accounts for about a quarter of the global GDP. These impressive numbers open up diverse prospects for broad and productive interaction. It is no coincidence that increasingly more countries want to step up and join the SCO in a particular capacity.

The SCO has formed an extensive legal framework, accumulated much experience  of  joint work  in politics and security, and built  solid groundwork for the progressive development of trade, economic and cultural ties. The achievements of the 2019-2020 Russian SCO chairmanship will contribute to further progress across these areas.

Ensuring security and stability in the region remains the SCO’s unfailing priority. Today,we can safely say that the SCO is emerging as  one of the Eurasian space’s core elements in this regard. The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure functions effectively, as domany other mechanisms for practical cooperation designed to counter new challenges and threats. Today, Dushanbe is hosting a Meeting of the Secretaries of the Security Councils of the SCO Member States, who will conduct an in-depth discussion of these issues.

The Programme for Cooperation in Countering Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism and an Anti-Drug Strategy are being implemented within the SCO. The SCO Convention on Counteracting Extremism is of particular importance today. The joint Anti-Terror exercise, the military anti-terrorist command and staff Peace Mission exercise, the international anti-drug Cobweb operation and the joint border Solidarity operation are held annually.

Priority tasks include deepening trade and economic cooperation. Serious groundwork has been laid in transport, logistics, infrastructure, digital connectivity and agriculture, to name a few. For example, all routes under the Agreement on the Creation of Favourable Conditions for International Road Transport of the SCO Member States were opened in late 2020.

An action plan is being drawn up as a follow-up to the Concept for the Development of Remote and Rural Areas in the Digital Age adopted at Russia’sinitiative at the SCO Summit on November 10, 2020. Work is underway to draft a roadmap for a gradual transition to mutual settlements in national currencies. Additional opportunities opened up following the launch of the Forum of Heads of the SCO Regions, which held its first online meeting on October 29, 2020. The Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association remain effective interaction mechanisms.

In the humanitarian area, the emphasis is on ensuring the sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the people. The Comprehensive Plan of Joint Actions of the SCO Member States to Counter the Threats of Epidemics in the Region was approved at the summit held on November 10, 2020. A plan for priority practical measures to overcome the socioeconomic, financial and food-related consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is being drafted.

Cooperation in public care, culture, tourism, education, science and technology is expanding.  The SCO University, which unites about 80 universities in the SCO space into an educational network, is now operational. Contacts between people, especially young people, are expanding. The SCO Youth Council plays a coordinating role in this process.

Currently, efforts are focused on preparing a meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States to be held in Dushanbe on September 16-17. The leaders will focus on pressing items on the international and regional agendas, as well as priority tasks to strengthen and expand practical cooperation within the SCO. In this regard, the drafts of the Dushanbe Declaration and a number of other documents and decisions are being worked through. The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO Member States scheduled for July 13-14 will fill the summit in Dushanbe with content.

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s statement that “Washington will not warn Russia about cyberattacks”

 

We are deeply perplexed by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s words that Washington will not “warn about cyberattacks” on targets in Russia in response to cyberattacks on facilities in the United States. Psaki said this in response to a journalist’s question at a briefing on June 21. This is all the more surprising in the context of the outcome of the June 16 summit, at which the presidents of the two countries announced their intention to hold Russian-US expert consultations on international information security issues in order to resume the dialogue in this area. Now, unexpectedly, we hear these statements, which seem not to be based in reality. So, we have to guess whether the United Sates has backtracked on the agreements reached at the top level last week.

The impression is that, despite the first signs of pragmatism emerging in relevant bilateral contacts, the United States is still trying to reserve the right to deliver cyberattacks on the basis of groundless fabricated accusations of the same, which they so often level against Russia. Strictly speaking, it will not be a response by the United States but rather an undeclared and perfidious attack they will be the first to carry out. We want these words to be treated by Washington as seriously as possible. Our country, which has just marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War [1941-1945], remembers and knows well what perfidy is. Even hints at the possibility of behaviour like this are totally unacceptable. Perhaps this is a strange initiative by someone on the ground, who is sidestepping the decision of the two heads of state.

Prior to the summit, the Americans gave us to understand that international information security issues were of strategic importance to them while the malicious use of information and communications technology directly affected the efforts to maintain global peace and security. In this context, we hope that the awareness of the importance of a direct, professional and responsible discussion with Russia will still prevail. We are looking forward to Washington taking adequate steps as a follow-up to the agreements reached by our leaders.

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Remarks by Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at Bundswehr Academy

 

We were bound to take note of the rousing remarks by German Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer before the future officers at  the Bundeswehr Academy, especially because of the date. The German military chose the second part of June, when we are particularly interested in their statements.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer did not follow the example of her superior, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. On the eve of the 80thanniversary, a terrible anniversary of the start of the Great Patriotic War, which   the Germans had unleashed, she chose not to speak about the need to maintain a dialogue with Russia, with which Germany is linked “historically, socially and economically,” but urged the Bundeswehr command echelon to “build up their muscles” to protect the “liberal values” in the face of Russia.”Think about that.  It is necessary to “build up” muscles to protect the “liberal values.” This sounds almost oxymoronic. But that is not the most bizarre thing she said.

Let us leave aside the idea of protecting liberalism by military force, although this  might have shocked the classics of  liberal thought like John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say and David Ricardo. They would certainly have seen such statements as  leading down  the path of dictatorship  or authoritarianism. However, ideas like this are gaining momentum in “advanced liberal” countries. Let us turn to the essence of the minister’s remarks.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer appealed to the intellectual and military superiority of German statehood as a counterbalance to “threats from Russia, China and Islamic extremism.” At this point, I would like to ask her a basic question: “How do you feel? Are you okay? Who gave you the right to officially draw analogies between Russia and China, on the one hand, and Islamic extremism, on the other? I would like to remind the German minister that, as distinct from Germany, Russia is fighting radical Islamism in Syria.

It is true that there was one idea in her speech that we are bound to agree with. She described the war that was unleashed in eastern Ukraine in 2014 as a “crude violation of international law.” This is true, but we wish the head of the Defence Ministry of a Normandy format country could have made it clear that Kiev unleashed this war against its own population. We could even have discussed what Berlin did to avoid this scenario because before 2014 it was overseeing many processes in Ukraine.

We are bound to say that even though Germany does not intend to become a nuclear power (thank you for nothing), the Defence Minister again emphasised the importance of cooperation with the United States in nuclear deterrence, and also asked for funds to upgrade delivery vehicles that will replace Tornado aircraft. At this point, I must once again question her logic. Maybe the theses of her report were written by different agencies (that adhere to diametrically opposite foreign policy concepts). But a different version seems more realistic. Maybe, under the cover of rosy speeches about commitments to the building of a nuclear-free world, Berlin c0ontinues stoking tensions in Europe’s nuclear affairs. If so, Berlin is thereby shaking up the already highly unstable structure of the nuclear arms control system in Europe.

We believe that now, in conditions of continued geopolitical turbulence, the heads of the military departments in Germany must display restraint in their statements. They should be calling for cooperation and the adoption of urgent measures to improve the current alarming situation. Some speakers made statements to this effect at the Security Conference in Moscow today, andthis discussion will continue. In any event, if the Germans do not know how to write such remarks, we can share our experience with them. Please review the speech by the Russian Defence Minister at the Moscow Conference on International Security.  It would be useful to you.

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New package of illegal EU sanctions against Belarus

 

We received many questions about the illegitimate and illegal EU sanctions against Belarus. We are unanimous with our Belarusian allies when it comes to the categorical rejection of the unilateral illegal restrictions adopted by Western countries in violation of international law. Indeed, as the Belarusian Foreign Ministry pointed out in a comment, this borders on the declaration of an economic war.

The so-called 4th package of sanctions against Belarus, which the European Council adopted on June 21, 2021, amounts to EU’s interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, a UN and OSCE member. The EU is abusing the law by talking down to Minsk and assuming the role of the investigator and the judge. It is especially cynical that the EU did not cite any legal norms for this decision but said that they “are united in our action with our likeminded partners.” This must be the notorious “rules-based order,” which the Western community is trying to force on us in place of international law. By replacing the priority of international law with certain “rules” the author and targets of which are unidentified, which can be changed any day and imply a herd instinct and the “might is right” principle, the EU has invalidated its own claim to the role of the custodian of international law.

Proof of the illegitimate and politicised nature of the EU restrictions is that Brussels has adopted them without waiting for the outcome of the ICAO-led international investigation into the emergency landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk. The EU has announced that its restrictive measures were designated, in part, in connection to the Ryanair incident. This is surprising. Why didn’t the EU, which cited its concerns about the Ryanair incident in Belarus and promoted its views in ICAO, wait for the conclusions of that respected international organisation? We recall that in its statement of May 24, 2021, the European Council called on ICAO to “urgently investigate” the matter. Has their ambition subsided? Have they lost interest? Is the incident no longer useful, and, having discussed the importance of an investigation by international organisations, they decided to use the sanctions truncheon without a clear understanding of the potential outcome of the investigation?

As we are well aware, these EU sanctions are designed to intentionally bring down the living standards of ordinary people in Belarus. This is what they are counting on. I would like to cite the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, in this connection. He made an incredible statement shortly before the European Council’s meeting, saying that the sanctions “are going to hurt the economy of Belarus, heavily.” He added that this would punish Belarusians to force them to “change their behaviour.” It is, essentially, a self-revealing statement.

It shows that the EU does not uphold equality in relations with the sovereign state of Belarus, does not respect the legitimate interests or the free choice of its development path, and does not care for the well-being of people in Belarus. The disenfranchised Russian speakers in Ukraine and the Baltics, who are suffering from the EU’s sanctions, and people in Syria and Venezuela have felt the hypocrisy of this policy. Regrettably, they have grown used to the openly disdainful attitude of the EU agencies, which are acting in accordance with the Jesuitical concept that the end justifies the means. I would like to repeat that for the past few years the EU’s sanctions deliberately targeted Syrians and Venezuelans inthe most difficult period in their lives.

Even amid the pandemic the EU has not lifted or in any way modified its “punishment” for people in those countries. There is no point in talking about human rights with them. They do not care for or even understand the real meaning of human rights. These days, when the world recalls that Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union began precisely in Belarus 80 years ago, the obvious and tragic comparisons spring to mind.

The Russian Federation is committed to its allied relations with fraternal Belarus. We will continue to coordinate our efforts in the interests of strengthening the state sovereignty and protecting the national security of our countries based on international law, as well as building up our collective resistance to external pressure and containment.

As for the addition of Russian citizens to the EU sanction lists under nefarious pretexts that defy logic, this move will be commensurately reciprocated, as usual.

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The so-called Navalny case

 

Official representatives of some NATO states, including Germany, continue to regularly demand that Russia investigate the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny by a certain toxic “war” gas. We are noting that such statements have already become part of the anti-Russia theses that must be actively used by Western media outlets. Those who concocted this story believe that it must remain part of the international news agenda because, as we have repeatedly pointed out, Western handlers have invested too much effort in this story, and they are therefore in no position to easily renounce it or even invent another one.  

Although the already-mentioned statements are nothing but traditional Western manipulations, part of the so-called strategic communications, as they like to say, on the so-called Navalny case (the European Union uses this euphemism to denote propaganda), and although, in effect, the Russian side is no longer expected to respond to such statements, we nevertheless, consider it appropriate to briefly comment on them and to draw a logical bottom line. First of all, we are addressing our words to the authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany, who played a leading role in this incident with this Russian citizen.

The German law enforcement agencies failed to provide even one detailed reply to eight inquires made by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office on providing international legal assistance on the situation with Navalny. The German side openly indicates that it has no intention of replying to any future inquiries and requests. Consequently, any claims made by official Berlin regarding any investigation in the context of this incident are absolutely groundless and are simply hypocritical.  

We would like to recall that information and material, requested from the German partners, are needed to complete the Russian Interior Ministry’s pre-investigation check of the reasons for the Russian citizen’s emergency hospitalisation in Omsk on August 20, 2020. Otherwise it is impossible to open a criminal case under Russian legislation; this has been repeatedly explained to our German colleagues and noted publicly. Berlin is well aware of all this.

At the same time, the Russian side (I would like German media outlets to retain this aspect in their stories) reaffirms its readiness to resume cooperation for clarifying all the circumstances of the incident involving  this Russian citizen after the German authorities fulfil their obligations in the area of international law enforcement cooperation and the provision of data and evidence being requested from them.

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Developments in the Republic of Chad

 

Regrettably, the Republic of Chad has emerged as a new source of instability. The Russian Federation maintains friendly relations with Chad and follows closely its domestic political developments, which have become more complicated since the tragic death of President Idriss Deby Itno on April 20, 2021.  

On the same day, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) took control of the country. It announced the dissolution of the Government and Parliament and the introduction of an 18-month transitional period following which it will hand over power to a civilian cabinet and hold a general election. Under the Charter of the Transitional Period, other authorities aside from the TMC were formed, including the National Transitional Council (the legislature) and the Provisional Government.  

We take a positive view of the fact that the TMC is prioritising peace and stability in the republic and taking effective measures to ensure national security and territorial integrity.

We hope that the current provisional authorities will take consistent steps to enable society to transition to the civilian rule within the established timeframe by holding a free and democratic general election.  We support the efforts aimed at establishing a broad-based national dialogue and a forum with the participation of all political forces.

The Russian Federation is interested in further developing mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation with the Republic of Chad in the interests of the peoples of our countries, and for ensuring stable development on the African continent.

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The Pompidou Group adopts a new Statute

 

On June 16, 2021, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe approved by consensus a revised Statute of the Council of Europe Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (the Pompidou Group), which was timed to coincide with its 50th anniversary.  Today, the Pompidou Group comprises 41 countries, including three non-European states. The Russian Federation joined the Pompidou Group in 1999.

During the coordination of the updated Statute, through the efforts of the Russian delegation, the Group’s basic mandate on law enforcement cooperation was confirmed and its balanced agenda was preserved despite insistent attempts by a number of states to reorient its activities to human rights alone. In addition, Russia insisted on including a provision on the need for drug policies to conform to international law, primarily the three UN drug control conventions. Importantly, the Statute recognises the role of the Pompidou Group as a European mechanism for intergovernmental cooperation in the area of drug policies. 

Russia makes an important contribution to the Group’s operations and promotes advanced Russian methods for preventing and treating drug addiction in a drug-free environment as an effective alternative to the “harm reduction” practices that lack universal recognition and are partly banned by Russian laws.

We regard this body as an important and highly needed regional mechanism for countering the drug threat, which, in our opinion, should be used to the maximum degree to build up practical collaboration between states rather than to subordinate anti-drug cooperation to human rights standards.

The approval of the Statute is an important step in strengthening the multidisciplinary activities pursued by the Council of Europe, which is addressing a broad range of issues, including the essential fight against new threats and challenges.

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June 22 commemorative events for the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War at Russian overseas missions

 

Russian missions abroad marked 80 years since the start of the Great Patriotic War in all corners of the planet. Depending on the sanitary-epidemic situation, commemorative events were held in both conventional and hybrid formats. They were accompanied by numerous and sometimes quite unique publications on social media. They can be found via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accounts.

Perhaps the brightest, in every sense of the word, and the biggest Day of Memory and Sorrow event was the Candle of Memory global initiative. Tens of thousands of people all around the world lit candles in memory of those who perished during the war, who died in concentration camps and in the Russian regions occupied by the Nazis. Russian diplomats and compatriots in many countries really put their hearts into the initiative, arranging candles in distinctive symbolic patterns.

The Russian Permanent Mission to the UN, together with the Victory Museum, held an online exhibition, June 22, 1941: Tragedy. Courage. Heroism, based on photos and posters from the first period of the war. Also, our Embassies in Berlin, Rome, and Copenhagen posted on social media a very interesting series of publications devoted to the work of Soviet diplomats during the first days of the war, based on rare documents and testimonies.

It is gratifying that, along with Russian ambassadors, our colleagues from the CIS countries took part in many events. Our unity on such an important matter sends a truly powerful signal to those seeking to rewrite the history of the Great Patriotic War: “We remember the heroic deeds of the peoples of the Soviet Union and we will not allow them to be forgotten.”

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The International Forum of Russian Compatriots June 22, 1941, Victory Will Be Ours

 

On June 19-23, Minsk and Brest hosted the International Forum of Russian Compatriots, June 22, 1941, Victory Will Be Ours, dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The event was held under the auspices of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad.

The forum, which brought together over 80 Russian diaspora representatives from 26 countries, became, in fact, the first face-to-face meeting of our compatriots from various countries after a long break.

Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko spoke at the opening ceremony and read out Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s greetings. Other speakers included First Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Alexander Guryanov, Member of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Yelena Afanasyeva, Head of the Federal Agency for the CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation Yevgeny Primakov, other representatives of executive agencies, Russian NGOs and patriotic foundations.

Those attending the event focused on ways to consolidate the Russian diaspora, preserve our common historical memory, preclude the falsification of history, and promote patriotic education of young people. All the speakers, without exception, emphasised that the multi-ethnic Soviet people had made a decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism, and it is crucial to prevent a revision of the results of the Great Patriotic War and development of some “new vision” based on the distortion of historical reality. Compatriots’ organisations reaffirmed their readiness to continue active work to oppose the rewriting of history and to further consolidate Russian communities.

On June 22, the participants at the forum visited the Brest Fortress, where they attended a requiem meeting at 4 o’clock in the morning.

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80th anniversary of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency

 

Tomorrow, June 24, marks 80 years since the establishment of the Soviet Information Bureau, now known as Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency.

It is no coincidence that this anniversary is linked to that of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The Soviet Information Bureau was founded on June 24, 1941, two days after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The purpose of the bureau was to broadcast news from the frontline. The bureau’s large-scale work that began during the war continued after the war ended. The Soviet Information Bureau played an important role in covering the main areas of the domestic and foreign policy of the Soviet Union.

The specialisation of this media outlet of truly strategic importance was not limited to politics. Prominent authors worked in the bureau’s literary department, including Korney Chukovsky, Mikhail Sholokhov, Boris Polevoy, Valentin Katayev and Alexey Tolstoy.

In the 1960s, the bureau was renamed as Novosti Press Agency (APN) and later grew into what became RIA Novosti which eventually expanded its network of representative offices to 120 countries, offering essential support to the Foreign Ministry and its foreign missions.

Rossiya Segodnya today is a team of high-calibre professionals guided by the genuine values of journalistic ethics and committed to impartiality, accuracy and objectivity.  The media group comprises the Sputnik international news agency and websites in 32 languages, Russia’s biggest news agency and website RIA Novosti as well as projects like PRIME, Ukraina.ru, Baltnews, TOK video platform and many others.

We commend the quality of foreign affairs coverage by the agency and its readiness for fruitful and creative cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and our missions abroad. We value our long-term comradery and look forward to working together in the future, serving the interests of objective coverage of Russia’s stance on the key issues of the international and domestic agenda.

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Answers to media questions:

Question: The spread of COVID-19 is causing concern worldwide. On June 22, Russia resumed flights to and from Turkey. Was it reasonable, considering the developments in southern Russia – that is, the state of emergency in Crimea, the flooding in Kerch, Yalta and Sevastopol? A great number of Russians will spend their summer vacation in Turkey where the epidemiological situation was very alarming not so long ago. It has been reported that the incidence rate in Russia is growing. In view of this, was it safe to resume air traffic with Turkey? How can Turkey ensure the safety of Russian nationals in the current circumstances?

Maria Zakharova: I would like to note once again that decisions on this matter are the responsibility of the Emergency Response Centre on preventing the import and spread of the novel coronavirus infection in Russia. The centre operates in close cooperation with federal agencies, government bodies and executive authorities.

I advise you to visit the website of the Emergency Response Centre, which is very informative and updated frequently. Also, please note that Tatyana Golikova, the head of the centre, offered her comments today on the same issue.

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Question: What action will Russia take with respect to the United Kingdom in response to the dangerous provocation and violation of the Russian state border?

Maria Zakharova: I have already said that the Russian Defence Ministry had reported extensively on Russia’s response. As concerns diplomatic action, I have already commented on our intention to summon the British ambassador and the decision made in this respect.

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Question: During last week’s briefing, a correspondent of the Public TV Company of Armenia asked you to comment on the visit of President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to the city of Shusha, which was described as “occupied.” President of Russia Vladimir Putin has spoken up on many occasions for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within the internationally recognised borders. As we all know, Shusha is an integral part of Azerbaijan. This rhetoric has been used increasingly frequently in Armenia lately. In your opinion, how will this affect the peace process in the region?

Maria Zakharova: We are not going to tell journalists what questions they should or should not ask. This is their exclusive right, but I would nevertheless recommend them to focus above all on the efforts of all the sides involved in the settlement process towards peace and stabilisation in the region. It is the number one subject, and I believe that it should be covered more extensively. More information about constructive moves – not fake news but faithful coverage of these constructive actions – will strengthen the public belief in complete normalisation. This is critically important, because a return to peaceful life is certainly possible with the support of the sides involved. It is people who must return to normal life. They must be confident about their future, and so it is critically important to inform them about the steps being taken towards this goal.

This brings us to the other aspect of this subject, which is hindering these efforts. Different personalities in many countries have made a number of destabilising statements designed to make people fear for their future and to undermine their belief in the implementation of the agreements reached. We have seen provocative, humiliating and even fake statements. This is why we say that the statements made by the sides must be adjusted to our priority task and our common goal, which was set out in the documents signed by the three leaders last year and which has been reaffirmed and augmented this year.

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Question: What does Russia expect Armenia to do now, after the completion of the parliamentary election within the framework of its obligations in the South Caucasus?

Maria Zakharova: The new Armenian authorities are being established in keeping with the national legislation. We must wait until this process is completed. As of now, I can refer you to our comment of June 21, 2021 regarding the outcome of the early parliamentary election in the Republic of Armenia. It is available on the ministry’s website.

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Question: You have mentioned the recent forum of Russian compatriots held in Minsk and Brest on the occasion of 80 years since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. We have come from many countries to show that we are not aliens here, that we are serving the Motherland, which can count on us. The motto of our forum is Victory Will Be Ours.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Foreign Ministry of Russia and more specifically, to Andrey Rudenko, Nikolay Lakhonin, the Department for Relations with Compatriots Abroad, Alexander Nurizade, the Russian Embassy in Belarus, the Moscow House in Minsk, the Federation Council, Rossotrudnichestvo, Yevgeny Primakov, and many other people and agencies that helped to bring us together at this forum.

Compatriots are not those, or not only those who want something from you. We have huge creative and intellectual potential, which we are using to promote the image of Russia and the idea of the Russian world. We often manage to tell the public more than official resources can. We are carrying out our combat moral duty on the outermost border.

Are you ready to make better use of our capabilities?

Maria Zakharova: Yes, we are.

Speaking about questions and answers, and what they should be, the best question is the one to which you want to give a short and positive answer.

Thank you for your caring attitude as a representative of our compatriots, a person who strongly feels for and understands not only what Motherland means but also what Motherland is. Thank you for giving your time and effort in a period that must be difficult for you personally (I believe that the pandemic has challenged everyone and not a single person can feel excluded from this alarming agenda) in order to work towards goals of fundamental significance for you, goals that are associated with your Motherland.

Thank you very much.

 

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