4 March 201921:10

Slanderous articles in the British media

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The British media reacted to the anniversary of the Salisbury incident with a slew of anti-Russian pieces. For example, the British tabloid The Mail on Sunday published on March 3 the results of its “investigation” into the activities of Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko. The author of the article accused Yakovenko of involvement in espionage during his time at the USSR’s Permanent Mission at the UN in the 1980s. As a key piece of evidence cited is that Yakovenko was awarded a military medal 'For Merits to the Fatherland' in 1996, an accolade often given to spies... for his successful “espionage work.”

Following on the Russian Embassy in London, we confirm the slanderous character of this article.

Yakovenko worked at the Soviet mission at the UN from 1981 to 1986 and came home upon the completion of his foreign posting.

The assertion that the medal “For Merits to the Fatherland” is a military medal betrays the absolute incompetence of the author, who does not know anything about the system of state decorations in Russia.

The substance of the matter is that in 1993-1998 Yakovenko headed the Russian delegations at the talks on the launching of the International Space Station. This was a major international project with the participation of Russia, the US, EU states, Canada and Japan. The talks were successful, resulting in an agreement signed in Washington in 1998. The leaders of the Russian Federation decided to present Yakovenko with the medal “For Merits to the Fatherland, Second Class” for his personal contribution to the complicated multilateral negotiations. Against this backdrop, the link drawn by The Mail on Sunday between the award and spying looks completely absurd.

We hope this article is just an unfortunate misunderstanding by the Mail on Sunday and will be retracted by its Editor-in-Chief Ted Verity before long. Attempts to fan the flames of the artificial anti-Russian spy mania in Britain in the context of the anniversary of the Salisbury incident by discrediting Russia’s highest representative in the UK are unacceptable.

The conspiracy theorists from The Times dreamed even bigger. On March 3 the newspaper published a report entitled “Establishment flocks to dine at Kremlin-linked Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.” In their telling, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) is an international spying organisation of the Kremlin whose networks directly threaten the highest echelons of the British aristocracy this time. To support this claim, the author of the article makes what he thinks is a rock-solid argument – the IOPS is headed by former FSB chief Sergey Stepashin while Russian Ambassador to the UK Yakovenko takes part in its public activities in London.

Founded in 1882, the IOPS is one of the oldest and most reputable organisations in the world. After the 1918 October revolution it was renamed the Russian Palestine Society and placed under the USSR Academy of Sciences. After the collapse of the USSR it continued its activities under its original historical name Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.  Since its foundation the IOPS has had the same areas of focus: Middle East scholarship, humanitarian cooperation with the peoples of the Middle East and support for Orthodox pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It has never had and cannot by definition have anything to do with “spy games.”

The fanning of anti-Russian popular sentiment by the British media is reaching dizzying heights, calling to mind the anti-Soviet propaganda of McCarthy-era America and the unforgettable quote from those times: “The Russians are coming! They are right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers.”

To sum up, there is every indication that our ambassador in London is being harassed by media controlled by the UK establishment. As such, it is possible that additional slanderous articles about Yakovenko will appear.




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