Update on reports about the joint operation by Russia and Argentina to intercept a drug shipment to Russia
Ambiguous and outright false publications continue to spread in a number of media outlets and on social media despite the official statements released by the Foreign Ministry, the Federal Security Service and the Russian Embassy to Argentina on the successful operation by the law enforcement agencies of Russia and Argentina to intercept a drug shipment organised with the involvement of a former maintenance worker of the Russian Embassy to Argentina. Most of these publications can be clearly referred to as fake news.
These publications abound with unverified information and conspiracy theories, coming from both “independent bloggers and Telegram channels,” as well as professional journalists. One can only guess why Deutsche Welle, an agency financed from Germany’s federal budget, published articles of this kind, including those authored by Konstantin von Eggert.
The information conveyed by these so-called insiders and couch conspirologists has nothing to do with reality.
Here are some fake assertions that have resonated the most:
1) “Narcotic drugs that were supposed to be shipped to the European markets were discovered by Argentina, after which the Russian Embassy joined the investigation.” The Foreign Ministry stresses yet again that it was the other way around. The Russian Embassy staff discovered the drugs, as both Russia and our Argentinian partners have said on multiple occasions.
2) “Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev was urgently dispatched to Argentina to deal with the situation.” Under the international protocol practice, high-level visits of this kind are carefully planned and coordinated well in advance, which takes even longer if a conversation with the country’s leadership is on the agenda. Nikolai Patrushev’s visit was no exception: it was prepared in advance, taking into account the prospect of a meeting with President of Argentina Mauricio Macri.
3) “Drugs were to be delivered to Moscow by diplomatic pouch.” Once again, the shipment could not have been sent by diplomatic channels. Presenting the matter this way is indicative of the complete ignorance of the mechanism and procedure of sending diplomatic mail, the content of which is certainly not determined by the mission’s maintenance workers.
4) Unfortunately, even those who already left this world have not been spared by this informational onslaught. “The links between a former member of the Foreign Ministry’s Latin America Department, the late Petr Poshikov, with drug cartel” was mentioned in publications. He lost his life in a tragic accident that was not related to his professional activity.
5) The newspaper Kommersant in its February 27, 2018 edition published an article “Suitcases used as bait to catch drug dealers,” claiming that “another person, formerly employed as a maintenance staff member by diplomatic missions in Germany, Andrey Kovalchuk, avoided arrest by hiding in this country.” The Foreign Ministry renews its call on the journalists to verify the “sensational” information, since Andrey Kovalchuk was never employed as a member of the maintenance staff by Russia’s diplomatic missions in Germany, and in general never worked for the Foreign Ministry.
6) In an article “Five arrested in Argentinian cocaine case. Tracks lead to Germany” that appeared in Rossiyskaya Gazeta journalists point to the fact that the Foreign Ministry and the Federal Security Service provided different numbers on the weight of the confiscated cocaine shipment. “The Federal Security Service reported about 362 kilograms of confiscated cocaine, while the Foreign Ministry mentioned 389 kilograms. The police discovered the drugs in a schooling and residential facility of the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires.” The Foreign Ministry has never communicated on the specific weight of the confiscated drug shipment.
7) An article by 812’ONLINE of February 26, 2018, titled “Heart attacks suffered by Russian diplomats could be related to the cocaine case,” is not only misleading but also insulting and even outrageous. By making these groundless accusations, those who is responsinle for writing this piece have clearly failed to think about the relatives of the diplomats who are no longer with us.
8) The report “From control to a cartel. Who controls the Russian drug market and how” released by Nastoyaschee Vremya (Present Time) television channel on its website on February 26, 2018 is misleading. Its authors went as far as to claim that “Russia’s domestic market for narcotic drugs has long been controlled by the Foreign Ministry and the relevant law enforcement agencies.”
These are just a few of the examples of intentional misrepresentations. There are hundreds of publications of this kind.
The Foreign Ministry reiterates that the investigation of this case has yet to be completed. The investigative procedures are underway, and the details on the operations of the criminal group are being clarified in order to hold the person behind this criminal activity to account. Under Russian law, the investigative authorities are in charge of investigating criminal cases, so their comments are the only credible source of information on this matter.
Russia’s Ambassador to Argentina, Viktor Koronelli, provided clarifications on this case in a number of interviews with the Russian media.
Interview with the Russian Ambassador to Argentina Viktor Koronelli:
Comment by the Russian Embassy in Argentina on the February 25, 2018 post at mmironov.livejournal.com “About Argentinian cocaine or why the Foreign Ministry is lying?”