Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Russia row rumbles on - British Council in Russia

By Matt Salusbury

This article first appeared in the English language teaching industry trade paper English Language Gazette, March 2008

In the aftermath of the British Council closing its St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg offices in mid-January, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that these could re-open if Britain restarts talks on counter-terrorism with Russia’s Federal Security Bureau, and on easing UK entry requirements for Russians. ‘Russia is for a legal resolution of the problem related to the British Council,’ he told the country’s ITAR-TASS news agency.
The Council said it had decided to close the two offices in order ‘to protect its workers’ after Russian nationals it employs were interviewed by state security-service agents. Also in mid-January, the director of the St Petersburg office, Stephen Kinnock, was briefly detained for alleged drink-driving. ‘The Russian authorities have made it impossible for us to operate,’ said Martin Davison, the Council’s chief executive.
The UK’s Foreign Office would not rule out the expulsion of Russian diplomats if intimidation of Council staff continued.

Copyright: English Language Gazette

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