Gordon Brown Attacks Russia for British Council Ban
Posted on: 2007-12-13 14:39:39
President Putin continues crackdown on NGOs
The row between Britain and Russia escalated dramatically again today when Gordon Brown described President Putin's decision to restrict the work of the British Council in Russia as "totally unacceptable" and pointed out that the only countries that blocked the Council's work were Burma and Iran.
Both Mr Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, made separate statements this morning sharply condemning the order to close all the Council's offices outside of Moscow within two weeks.
Announcing the decision yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the UK's cultural arm of operating illegally. Today, Andrei Lugovoy, Britain's main suspect in the poisoning of the London-based dissident Alexander Litvinenko, further inflamed tensions by claiming that the Council, which teaches English and British culture to foreign audiences worldwide, was packed with spies.
It is widely believed that Moscow made its move against the council as part of the ongoing dispute over its refusal to extradite Mr Lugovoy.
Questioned by the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Mr Brown launched a strongly-worded attack on Russia, saying that the only two other countries where such action had been taken were Burma and Iran.
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