Overwhelming Majority of Russians to Suffer from Conflict on British Council in Russia

Azerbaijan, Baku, 18 January/ corr. Trend A. Ismailova/ The vast majority of the Russians will suffer from the restrictions on the British Council's operations in Russia, Lorry Bristow, the deputy of the British ambassador to Russia said to Trend in on a telephone from Moscow. "What is particularly disappointing in this whole business is that, very large numbers of Russians, who want to work with the British Council in building education, science and cultural links, will suffer," the British diplomat said.

The day before, the British Council has stopped the work of its branches in Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, announcing that the Russian Government has made it impossible for it to carry its future activities.

The Russian Foreign Office demanded London to close the branches of the British Council in Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, saying that they lack the relevant legal basis.

Our relations with Russia go much wider than this and are of crucial importance to both the countries.  The Trade and investment between the two countries is growing fast, and we want to work with Russia to address major international issues such as climate change, Iran and Kosovo. UK wants to find ways to move on beyond the current difficulties, so that the relations with Russia can develop to their full potential, diplomat stated.

The first informational centre of the British Council was opened in Moscow, in 1992. It gained the status of cultural center of the Embassy. Later, 16 more branches were opened in Saint Petersburg, Archangelsk, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, Krasnoyarsk, Murmansk, Nijni Novgorod, Omsk, Petrozavodsk, Pskov, Rostov-na-Don, Samara and Sochi.

The relations between Moscow and London have begun to deteriorate, due to the murder of the political emigre Aleksandr Litvinenko, since the autumn of 2006. In July 2007, David Miliband, the new foreign minister of the Great Britain, ordered to impose sanctions against Russia after the refusal by Russia to handover Andrei Lugov, whom the English suspect in the murder.

London ordered the deportation of the four Russian diplomats from the country and to stop the cooperation with Russia in various spheres. Visa restrictions have been announced for the representatives of the Russian Government agencies. Moreover, Russian diplomats refused to go the Great Britain and British officials were denied entrance to Russia.

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