Anglo-Russian tensions rise with "drunk" arrest

( dpa )- The simmering tension between Russia and Britain took a further bizarre twist Wednesday with the arrest of a senior British Council official in St Petersburg - who also happens to be son of a prominent British Labour Party politician.

The government in London gave a furious reaction to the arrest on charges of drunk driving of Stephen Kinnock, director of the British Council representation in St Petersburg, and the son of Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader and European Union Commissioner.

Kinnock jr was arrested Tuesday evening but released Wednesday in what marked an escalation in the row over the Council's work in Russia - linked by many to the deterioration in diplomatic ties as a result of the Litvinenko affair.

Kinnock was pulled over in St Petersburg for driving down a one-way street, a traffic officer told the Interfax news agency.

"While checking Mr Kinnock's documents, we noticed a steady smell of alcohol. He refused a physical examination, but a report was made calling upon passersby as witnesses," the officer said.

The British government warned Russia Wednesday against the "intimidation" of Council staff, which was "completely unacceptable" and said it was informing the Russian ambassador of its concerns.

"The only losers from any attack on the British Council are the Russian citizens who want to use it," Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in London.

It was later reported that British Council offices in St Petersburg, and in Yekatarinenburg , had been temporarily closed because Russian staff were being questioned by Russia's Federal Security Service SFB.

A spokesman from the British Council confirmed that employees had been summoned for interviews and some staff had received house calls from Foreign Ministry representatives late Tuesday night.

The conflict over the cultural organization is the latest in a down-spiral of bilateral relations since the 2006 poisoning death in London of Russian spy-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko .

When the new row erupted, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had suspended drafting the new cooperation agreement that constitutes the muddy legal basis for the organization's operations "as retaliation for the expelling of Russian diplomats from London."

Russia cited a 1963 Vienna Convention on consular activities to order the closure in December of the British government's 15 regional offices including those in St Petersburg and Yekaterinenburg .

Britain, however, has ignored Russian directives, with its ambassador Anthony Brenton saying the order to close was against international law.

A sign on the door of the British Council office in St Petersburg on Wednesday announced its forced closure.

"The British Council in St Petersburg is temporarily closed in connection with late legal actions of the Russian authorities," it read.

Head of the Duma Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachyov said the parliament would discuss the diplomatic situation at its regular session on Wednesday.

He emphasized "Russian authorities have all the means necessary to insist on stopping the activity of British Council offices."

The Russian Foreign Ministry called the Council's reopening a "deliberate provocation" in a statement on Monday, and declared it would refuse visas to new Council employees and demand back taxes from the organization.

Brenton , who has been vilified by pro- Putin groups in recent weeks, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday for the second time this week.

Anglo-Russian relations sunk to new Cold War lows after Moscow refused to extradite Andrei Lugovoi , an ex-KGB bodyguard suspected of murdering Litvinenko .

But the conflict over the Council's legal status has churned since 1994. The organization sees itself as the cultural arm of the British Embassy and is not registered as a non-governmental organization under new Russian laws.

Value of OIC states' import from Turkey shows decline
Value of OIC states' import from Turkey shows decline
683 COVID-19 cases among schoolchildren registered in Kyrgyzstan in 3 months
683 COVID-19 cases among schoolchildren registered in Kyrgyzstan in 3 months
Number of Kyrgyzstan’s recoveries from COVID-19 reaches 64,711 with 560 new ones
Number of Kyrgyzstan’s recoveries from COVID-19 reaches 64,711 with 560 new ones
Loading Bars
Additional assets brought for Russian peacekeeping contingent delivered - Azerbaijani MoD (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan gains brilliant victory by liberating its lands - Chairman of National Congress
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry expresses condolences to Iranian side (PHOTO)
Deposit liabilities of Georgian banking system decreases month-in-month
Phase 3 of OPEC+ could lead to immediate fall in oil prices
Azerbaijan reveals TOP-10 private non-oil exporters
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on December 5
Azerbaijani banks to fully сancel loan debts of martyrs' families
Lending by Georgian commercial banks down
Iran reveals forecast for oil sales for next year
Lari depreciation remains one of leading factors in Georgian debt growth
Georgia decides to ease entry regime for its citizens
Aztelekom LLC announces tender for purchase of electronic spare parts
Bentley hires jets to fly car parts to Britain during Brexit
National Bank of Georgia reveals volume of international reserves
Georgia sees increase in overdue debt
Uzbekistan, Afghanistan eye to achieve twofold growth in trade
Russia discloses volumes of agricultural products supplied to Georgia
Azerbaijan's State Security Service prosecutes Lebanese terrorist mercenary (VIDEO)
Ashgabat City Telephone Network opens tender for audit
EU extends relief measures for COVID-hit loans to March
Turkmenistan expands international cooperation through environmental diplomacy
Iran expands mobile phone imports
Azerbaijani Clean City OJSC signs tender contract
Israel expects $220 million in non-defence trade with Bahrain in 2021
Azerbaijan determines damage inflicted by Armenia on Fuzuli, Jabrayil districts
Turkey to continue providing all kinds of assistance to Azerbaijan - Turkish Minister of National Defense
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price still rising
Employment increases in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province
Azerbaijan reduces lead exports
Investment in tourism transport infrastructure to help dev’t this sector in Turkmenistan - UNWTO
Georgia expects to start adoption of Oil Stockholding Act soon
Iranian president declares budget revenues for next year
Uzbekistan’s Agrobank to fund entrepreneurial activity under Islamic sharia law
Tightening of quarantine regime may be inevitable - TABIB
Iran expects increase of budget revenues
Georgian CEC to summarize final results of parliamentary elections on December 3
COVID-19 pandemic to displace business class cars from car rental market
Azerbaijan unveils data on local insurers' fees for 10M2020
Building for Turkish-Russian joint monitoring center under construction - Turkish Minister of National Defense
Georgia cultivates significant amount of land to combat marble bugs
Uzbekistan’s Tashkent registers largest number of private enterprises
Tourism can help protect, promote Turkmenistan’s culture - UNWTO
Volume of sales through Azexport portal continues to grow
New electricity facilities to be put into operation in Iran
Japanese agency funds project aimed at improving locust control in Uzbekistan
Georgian oil company trying to contain fuel price rise
Uzbekistan, Germany in talks over partnership with EU
Value of OIC states' import from Turkey shows decline
Azerbaijan's non-oil exports via 'Single Window' system increase
SOCAR Polymer remains export leader in Azerbaijan's private sector
Georgia aims to transpose renewables acquis
Kazakhstan's crude petroleum oil exports to Greece plummet
Construction of Kerki airport passenger terminal being completed in Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan's AzerGold becomes one of export leaders in public sector
Trilateral statement on Karabakh to contribute to long-term peace in region - Kazakhstan's President
Kazakhstan discloses volume of doses to be produced by COVID-19 vaccine plant
ASTS+ trading, clearing system to up productivity of Kazakhstan Stock Exchange
Azerbaijan announces recent COVID-19 death rate
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for December 2
Azerbaijan presents video footage from Lachin's Garygyshlag village (VIDEO)
Oil prices steady as market awaits output deal
Iran's export to Afghanistan increases
Prices of Kazakh-manufactured diesel fuel down
Azerbaijan's October 2020 non-oil exports slightly rise
Expenses on construction of enterprises in Iran’s Semnan Province climbs
Resources from Southern Gas Corridor to be available via Serbian-Hungarian pipeline
Iran's non-oil export has increases
Iron ore concentrate production of giant Iranian steel companies grows
Events in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh region, Kyrgyzstan complicate situation in CSTO area – Putin
Turkmenistan working on development of infrastructure for gas export
Uzbekistan’s State Tax Committee announces tender for IT services
Azerbaijan confirms 3,942 new COVID-19 cases, 2,265 recoveries
Azerbaijan shows video footage from Soyudlu gold deposit of Kalbajar district (VIDEO)
Turkish companies involved in construction of new road to Azerbaijan’s Shusha (Exclusive)
Georgia aims to introduce mobile virtual network operators in 2021
Georgian 2021 budget bill calls for issuing new Eurobonds
Turkmenistan to conclude technical inventory of companies involved in fuel, energy sector
Details of Iran's budget for next year announced
Azerbaijan's oil fund discloses 11M2020 value of revenues from ACG oil-gas fields block
Kazakhstan to develop soil and geobotanical maps for its agriculture lands
SOFAZ's incomes from sale of condensate produced in Shah Deniz remain unchanged
Kazakhstan increases imports from Vietnam despite COVID-19 restrictions
Stability in South Caucasus very important for Turkey - FM
Baku Stock Exchange auctions notes of Central Bank
Azerbaijan, Turkey to establish first Hi-Tech Park in Karabakh
UNDP provides Georgia with protective gear to fight COVID-19
Foreign exchange reserves of Central Bank of Azerbaijan increase
Victory Day established in Azerbaijan
Foreigners decrease payments with bank cards in Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan, Afghanistan consider expanding co-op in banking, customs spheres
Azerbaijani president signs order on establishment of Day of Remembrance
Methanol production unit to be launched at Navoiazot chemical enterprise in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan introduces digital technologies in water metering, water management automation
Natural gas production dynamics in Azerbaijan – Eni’s review
Number of Georgian companies registered in Turkey decreases
Azerbaijan hosts auction for state property privatization
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan up
Uzbekistan reduces imports of Turkish cars
Iran records decline in demand for Turkish cars
All news