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18 Jan, 2008 05:57

The Media Mirror: what's in today's Russian newspapers?

The focus of Friday’s Russian newspapers is Russia-UK relations – the British Council controversy from different viewpoints.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI reports British authorities decided to heed the demands of the Russian Foreign ministry and discontinue the work of regional offices of the British Council in Russia. The paper also wonders if any punishment will be handed to the Russian officials, who have allowed 15 years of their illegal existence.

TRUD wonders, will the conflict reach the point of breaking the diplomatic relations between Russia and the UK. That may cause an exodus of Russians from Britain, cause problems to such well-known people as Roman Abramovich, pop stars Valeria and Alsu, football players Smertin and Harin. It would also cause a hike in the number of Russians seeking political asylum in the UK.

KOMMERSANT has an interview with the British Ambassador to Russia, Anthony Brenton who says: “Most of the Russian elite either visit the UK once in a while or live there or educate their children in British schools and universities. The only side that really suffers from the conflict around the British Council is the Russian side.”

NOVAYA GAZETA quotes an international law expert saying the problem of the British Council is, in fact, a collision between national law and international practice. In times of good relations such problems just don’t arise. The paper explains: Russian law, in the absence of a special bilateral agreement, negotiations on which, fell victim to the Litvinenko case, allows foreign cultural centers to be open in Moscow. Regional offices can also exist but only with the permission of the Russian government. The Russian Foreign ministry says the British side has never applied for such.