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3 Jan, 2008 14:08

Moscow urges British Council to stop work in Russia's regions

The continued activity of the British Council in Russia's regions could lead to a further deterioration in relations between the two countries warns the Russian Foreign Ministry. Last month the ministry ordered the Council to halt its activities in all re

Russian authorities say the organisation has no international or domestic legal basis for operating in the country and it's violated tax laws. The U.K. denies the charges and has asked Russia to reconsider its decision.

As of now, the regional offices of the body to promote British culture are closed.

Earlier the British Embassy in Moscow said two centres will continue their business as usual after the Russian winter break.

Relations between the Moscow and London have worsened since the poisoning of former security services officer Aleksandr Litvinenko in London in 2006. Russia's refusal to hand over Andrey Lugovoy who Britain has accused of the murder led to a number of tit-for-tat measures.

“We hold the view that the British side will fully observe Russian legislation and stop the illegal activity of the British Council on the territory of the Russian Federation. Other actions would be provocative and aimed at further deepening the tensions in our relationship,” said Mikhail Kamynin, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson. He also added that, as a sign of goodwill, the ministry does not question the activity of the office of the British Council in Moscow. “We count on the wisdom of the British side,” he stated.