Somalilandsun: The Russian Federation’s Diplomatic mission for Somaliland and Somalia has released its newsletter #200 below
Embassy of the Russian Federation Newsletter# 200
Djibouti, P.O.Box 1913
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, March 19, 2020
Measures on bringing Russian citizens home from abroad
The vast majority of foreign trips, visits or talks by the Foreign Ministry’s top- and mid-level officials, have either been cancelled or postponed.
The Foreign Ministry has focused its efforts on the main goal – assisting Russian citizens abroad with returning home.
I would like to reiterate what we have discussed. The other day, the Foreign Ministry has established a coordinating headquarters, managed by Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, to coordinate its own work and to maintain cooperation with the interested federal executive bodies to help those Russian citizens abroad who wish to return to the Russian Federation during the spread of the coronavirus. The headquarters includes representatives from the Foreign Ministry’s territorial and functional departments. On-duty representatives from our departments are continuously in contact with the headquarters. The Crisis Management Cenre Department (CMCD) has the main responsibility for fulfilling these assignments. It will coordinate the work of the Foreign Ministry and our embassies and communications with our citizens.
The CMCD has a 24/7 multi-channel hotline. The telephone numbers are listed in the Foreign Ministry’s statement published on March 17. Duty officers receive and process messages from Russian citizens who find themselves in a predicament abroad in connection with the restrictions imposed by foreign countries for countering the spread of the coronavirus. In less than two days on high alert, the CMCD hotline has received over 6,000 telephone calls, as well as over 5,000 messages and calls through messengers. We are planning to increase our communication capacity because of the increasing number of calls. The Foreign Ministry and the CMCD websites have a section called, “Registration for Russian citizens wishing to return home.” https://sos.midhelp.ru/users/login. This page has a special e-registration form which provides for citizen’s identification and providing his/her contact information. The emergency telephone numbers for our foreign missions are also published on these websites.
In cooperation with the foreign missions, the Foreign Ministry and its coordinating headquarters are working to organise the return of Russian citizens from abroad as soon as possible, if they so desire. Lists of those who want to return home are being compiled. Currently, the CMCD has contact information on 5,500 Russian citizens. Our diplomats abroad are cooperating with the authorities in the host countries to receive permits for passing through their air space and resolve other related issues. In some case, they are helping people with accommodation and are taking them to departure areas whenever possible. They are also providing other assistance under the circumstances. That said, we know that we must do even more because everyone is in a very difficult situation.
We are working to bring people home from many countries. As of today, Aeroflot, S7, and other airlines have flown several hundred people to Russia from Montenegro, Uzbekistan, Latvia and Slovenia. We are planning ways to bring people back from the Philippines, Chile, Morocco, Peru and other Latin American countries. Considering the number of Russian citizens, the Canary Islands remain a problem. Aeroflot continues to fly to the capitals of 17 states to bring our citizens home to Russia.
I would also like to say that the increasing restrictions, primarily in the European countries, including the EU closing of its external borders and the imposition of bans on crossing national borders inside the Schengen zone, the suspension of movement inside a number of states, the large-scale cancellation of flights and the shutdown of land borders has turned a large number of our citizens into de facto hostages in many countries. In some places this can be explained by forced measures, whereas in others, a negative influence on resolving logistical issues is exerted sooner due to political considerations, or the sluggishness of the local authorities.
Importantly, the imposed additional quarantine restrictions have put many tourist routes, which are popular with our people, in semi-suspended and semi-siege conditions.
Many Russian citizens are still unable to return home, and some are being forced out of hotels practically into the street. This is also due to local quarantines. Many migration and visa difficulties are arising. The Foreign Ministry and our foreign missions are doing all they can to resolve these problems. I can assure you that we are working around the clock. Again, we will do everything we can to resolve these outstanding issues.
Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, on behalf of the European Union, on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol
We have taken note of the March 16 declaration on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol made by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles on behalf of the Union ahead of the 6th anniversary of the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia.
In fact, this declaration is simply a repetition of complaints to Russia. It looks like a jigsaw puzzle hastily compiled out of old statements.
It is regrettable that the new Brussels authorities continue to entertain the illusions about the events that took place six years ago, refusing to take a sober look at the situation. They are simply ignoring the realities.
We view the EU comments as unfriendly. We believe it inadmissible that they address the matter of Russia’s territorial integrity within its current borders. The EU is doing itself no favours by demeaning the importance of the historical referendum held on March 16, 2014, when the Crimeans voted for reunification with their fatherland. It is yet another of the numerous facts showing our EU partners’ waning commitment to the universally recognised standards of democracy and human rights. If the EU really wants and also considers that it is important to talk about human rights, we can discuss respect for human rights and declarations on the example of the fight against the coronavirus infection. It looks as if many countries have forgotten about this. This is no time for honing democratic spears with dusty Crimean stones.
It is regrettable that the EU, which has proclaimed the goal of strategic autonomy, has proved unable to make an independent analysis of the facts about life in Crimea. Instead, it is repeating obscure insinuations about the deterioration of human rights and environmental conditions in Crimea, which, we presume, have been compiled with Ukraine’s assistance. Environmental challenges are a global issue. They receive priority attention in Russia, but the EU doesn’t seem to be aware of this.
We consider as totally absurd the allegation that Russia is “changing the demographic structure of the population by transferring its own civilian population to the peninsula.” They are forgetting that Article 27 of the Constitution declares the right of Russian citizens to free travel and free choice of place of stay or residence. The compilers of the declaration overlooked the statistics which shows that last year some 10,000 (9,674) people from post-Soviet countries, nearly 80 percent (7,734) of them from Ukraine, permanently settled in Crimea. The number of Ukrainians who have taken permanent residence on the peninsula increased by 17 percent in 2019.
Another biased statement in the declaration concerns the open provocation staged by Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait in November 2018. It is a fact that it was planned ahead of the presidential election on direct orders from Petro Poroshenko.
They are preparing a new provocation now, a march to Crimea scheduled for May 3. Its organisers from the so-called Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People plan on breaking through to the peninsula across the state border of Russia. We call on you to prevent this.
While fanning tension over Crimea, the EU continues its inhumane practice of denying visas to Crimeans, which runs contrary to the key international standards in the field of human rights and several fundamental documents of the European Union itself. I know that the time is not right for talking about visas now, at a time when the EU has closed its internal space and many EU members have closed their national borders in violation of the fundamental rules and principles of the Union. But we know that the Crimean people were openly discriminated back when EU visas were issued to other people freely.
The Declaration’s appeal to “UN Member States” to join the EU sanctions, which are designed to worsen living conditions for the Crimeans, sounds especially indecent at a time when the international community should be teaming up and fighting the coronavirus infection together.
We call on the EU to start listening to the people of Crimea. I would like to say that a special statement on the 6th anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia was posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website yesterday. I invite everyone to read it. It is time to recognise the democratic choice made by the people of Crimea and Sevastopol and to take note of the positive changes that have taken place there since their reunification with Russia. By the way, many unbiased social and political representatives from Western countries have done this. The anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia is a good reason for this, rather than for playing along with Kiev by throwing new accusations at Russia.
The activities of the pseudo-humanitarian organisation White Helmets in Syria
We have regularly informed you about developments in Syria. I would like to say that today’s comment will be rather brief. At the same time, there are developments that must be mentioned.
We have noticed that US politicians have intensified their contacts with a Syria-based pseudo-humanitarian organisation known as White Helmets. It seems important to emphasise this fact, because these contacts normally end up causing big problems for the region, such as provocations and incendiary actions. On March 17, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun received the head of this organisation, Raed Al Saleh, this despite the State Department’s coronavirus-related restrictions on contacts with foreigners. On March 11, Saleh was invited to address the Senate. On March 3, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft had contacts with White Helmets representatives on the Turkish-Syrian border. A good, fruity PR move it was!
These meetings took place against the background of yet another irresponsible anti-Russia propaganda campaign that Washington launched in connection with the developments in the Idlib de-escalation zone (IDZ). Let me remind you that the zone is controlled by the terrorists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The stunning fact is that the White Helmets, who pose as a strictly humanitarian organisation, are again in the centre of Western information manipulations aimed at distorting the real state of affairs in Idlib. The main goal of these manipulations is to discredit the antiterrorist efforts of the Syrian Government and to hold Damascus and its allies responsible for the humanitarian situation in Northwestern Syria. To appear even more persuasive, but as usual lacking any proof, the campaigners put the “hero rescuers” themselves on the list of the “innocent victims” of the “Syrian regime,” Moscow and Tehran.
One has the impression that Washington is so outraged by the mere thought that the Russian-Turkish agreements on the IDZ may after all become implemented that it is ready to use any pretext to foster anti-Russia hysteria and undermine political settlement in Syria. Under these circumstances, the White Helmets, to whom the Americans have promised continued financial, political and organisational support, have no other option than to strictly follow their sponsors’ instructions and fulfill their political order. Now it is clear to everyone who and why established White Helmets and what quarters continue to support this organisation, whose main aim is to shape a false information environment and facilitate outside interference in Syria’s internal affairs for the benefit of the geopolitical interests of their customers.
I would like to add that if these activities and the renewed contacts with the White Helmets mean that the United States is trying to fill the vacuum of its foreign policy, then this is something we have been accustomed to. It is another matter that their contacts with the Western patrons are invariably followed by tragic events in the region. Putatively, they are given direct instructions as to how they should conduct subversive activities as well as fresh sponsor support, and so on.
Republic of Tunisia Independence Day
On March 20, the Republic of Tunisia is marking Independence Day, its national holiday. On March 20, 1956, Habib Bourguiba, the leader of the Tunisian liberation movement and the French government signed a protocol annulling the French protectorate regime, and Tunisia became a sovereign state. That same year, the Soviet Union and Tunisia established diplomatic relations.
Today, Tunisia is Russia’s important partner in North Africa. Trade and economic relations between our countries are developing rapidly. Of course, I would like to say a few words about Tunisian resorts, but, in my opinion, it would be somewhat out of place to advertise them today. I believe that we will speak about them separately after the global situation improves.
We congratulate the people of Tunisia on their national holiday, and we wish them well-being and prosperity.
Celebrating Republic of Namibia Independence Day and the 30th anniversary of establishing Russian-Namibian diplomatic relations
March 21 marks the 30th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Namibia. Europeans started developing its territory in the mid-19th century. In 1878, the United Kingdom established control over Walvis Bay and its vicinity. In the 1890s, Germany established its protectorate over the remaining territory of what is now Namibia. Named German South West Africa, the protectorate remained in force for 30 years. Between 1904 and 1907, the native population revolted against the German colonial administration. While suppressing the revolt, the Germans killed about 65,000 members of the Herero tribe or up to 80 percent of their population, and 10,000 members of the Nama tribe (50 percent).
In 1915, during the initial phase of WWI, South African forces commanded by the British military occupied this German colony. Five years later, the League of Nations gave the Union of South Africa, the Republic of South Africa since 1961, a mandate to administer this territory. In 1964, after the League of Nations ceased to exist, the government of South Africa was unable to incorporate South West Africa or to obtain a new UN mandate. However, Pretoria continued to retain control over this territory. In 1960, Namibian patriotic forces established the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) that began to fight for the country’s independence. The UN recognised this struggle as legitimate. The UN Council for South West Africa was established in 1967 and it was renamed the UN Council for Namibia in 1968.
It may be symbolic, but the current 30th anniversary of this state’s independence coincides with another important date, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Russian-Namibian diplomatic relations. This highlights solid bonds of friendship and solidarity between our countries. It should be recalled that Russia was among the first countries to extend a helping hand to the Namibian nation during the struggle for independence and self-determination. In the 1960s-1980s, the Soviet Union provided military, financial, information and organisational support. The country’s nationals were trained at the 165th centre for training foreign military personnel in Crimea. Namibia received special-purpose equipment, vehicles, small arms and ammunition as well as uniforms, petroleum, oil and lubricants.
Namibia held the first presidential and parliamentary elections in November 1989, and the leading SWAPO political party won. The Republic of Namibia proclaimed independence on March 21, 1990.
We congratulate our friends from this country on their national holiday and on the memorable date, the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. We sincerely wish further well-being as well as prosperity to the Namibian nation.