EXTRA: Russia says British Council must comply with national law
( dpa ) - The head of the Russia's International Affairs Committee said Thursday the British Council's offices should remain closed until "they comply with Russian law," news agency Interfax reported. "As far as I know the British council functions under French law in France and German law in Germany - only in Russia does it attempt to operate according to British standards," said Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Russian parliament's International Affairs Committee. Russia maintains the British Council's operations violate Russian law, citing a 1963 Vienna Convention on consular activities to order their closure in December. " Russia is not a banana republic," Kosachyov added, saying the British Council should operate according to the "existing national legislation in compliance with standard democratic and civilized norms." He also emphasized that the conflict over the organization's operations was longstanding, dating back to 1994 when Russia suspended drafting the new cooperation agreement with Britain that served as the legal basis for the organization's operations. The British Council sees itself as the cultural arm of the British Embassy and has not registered as an non-governmental organization as requested by new Russian laws.