British Council row: the Russian side of the story

Konstantin Kosachev
Chairman, State Duma International Affairs Committee
Chairman, Russian delegation to PACE

1962 - Born in Moscow Region
1984 - Graduates, Moscow State Institute of International Relations
1984 - Deputy Director, Foreign Ministry of the USSR
1998 - International Affairs Council, Russian Prime Minister
1999 - Deputy Head, Secretariat of Chairman of the Government
1999 - State Duma deputy
2001 - First Vice Chairman, Fatherland All Russia party, State Duma
2003 - Chairman, State Duma International Affairs Committee
2004 - Chairman of Russian delegation to PACE
2005 - Elected Vice President, PACE

Russia demanded that Britain shut down the two regional offices of the British Council, the international cultural arm of the British government, alleging they were operating illegally. But Russian Foreign Ministry officials also linked the closure order to the Litvinenko affair, specifically Britain's expulsion of four diplomats last year after Russia refused to extradite a suspect in the murder. The British Council offices in the two cities are now closed. How strained are relations now between Russia and Britain? To answer these questions and present the Russian side of the story, our guest today is the Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee - Konstantin Kosachev.