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Russia orders British Council to shut down


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December 12, 2007

Russia orders British Council to shut down operations

The Foreign Office today angrily rejected a Kremlin demand that the British Council close down all its operations in Russia except for those of its headquarters in Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said this morning that the Council, which promotes British culture and offers English language lessons through its 15 regional offices in Russia, had no legal basis for its operations and should close down its regional offices by the new year.

The move was seen as a retaliation for the expulsion of four Russian diplomats from Britain in July, in a continuing row over the murder in London last year of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. British prosecutors have named Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB agent, as the prime suspect in the murder, but Moscow has refused to extradite him.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that the activities of the Council were compliant with both international and Russian law under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and a bilateral cultural agreement from 1994.

"The British Council engages in a broad and hugely popular range of activity across Russia, which directly benefits hundreds of thousands of ordinary Russians," she said.

"It is a cultural, not a political institution and we strongly reject any attempt to link it to Russia’s failure to co-operate with our efforts to bring the murder of Alexander Litvinenko to justice."

The Council itself said that it had no plans to close down its offices in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, and was backed by Gordon Brown, whose official spokesman told reporters: "We, the Council and its Russian partner organisations have every intention that its programme will continue."

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that a new bilateral agreement to regulate the Council's activities, drawn up after the diplomatic expulsions from the UK in July, had not been signed. He also accused the Council, a registered charity, of violating Russian tax laws.

Full story, Source: The Times

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Well, it's Russian territory and if the 'council' is not political. Then that 'council' should oblige to the Russian gov'ts demands. We'd want the same if the roles were reversed...

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who said the russians were smart, they dicked away their entire country in a fifty year span then we had to come in and bail thier stupid a$$es out, yeah that really denotes intellegence ......right.

Edited by Stixxman
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who said the russians were smart, they dicked away their entire country in a fifty year span then we had to come in and bail thier stupid a$$es out, yeah that really denotes intellegence ......right.

Oh c'mon, did'nt they invent the worlds largest micrprocessor? [snickers]

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Well, the BAD news is that the Russian "get out" position is backed by the Russian Government, and hence the Armed Services, the Interior Ministry paramilitary wing, the FSB (formally the 2nd through 8th directorates of the KGB), the SRV (potentialy), and the various heirarchies of the Russian Police Forces.

The REALLY BAD news is that the British Council is backed by Gordon Brown.

Guess they're coming home.

Meow Purrski.

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