London seeks to minimize public’s contacts with Russian embassy — diplomats

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LONDON, November 6. /TASS/. The UK government is seeking to minimize the public’s contacts with the Russian embassy in London, an embassy spokesperson said on Tuesday, commenting on earlier media reports alleging that half of all Russians living in London work for Russian special services.

“We also have to state that appearance of such materials is a new element in the pressure campaign against the Russian Embassy in London, which is intended to discourage both British and Russian citizens from contacts with us,” the embassy spokesperson said in a statement. “We would like to note that, as far as we know, the British Embassy in Moscow does not face such problems.”

Russian diplomats said that claims of the Russian diaspora’s alleged ties with the Russian intelligence are based on a report made by the Henry Jackson Society, a non-governmental organization which does not hide its anti-Russian views.

“But even this superficial and irresponsible report has been distorted by the media affiliated with the current Conservative government for the sake of sensation and a further increase of Russophobic sentiment in the British society,” the embassy statement reads.

According to the Russian embassy, “a non-committal phrase,” which, according to the original report sounded like “Reflecting the level of paranoia within London’s Russian community, interviewees and interlocutors suggested that anywhere between a quarter and a half of Russian expats were, or have been, informants” has been transformed by the media into a categorical statement: “The study said there were as many as 75000 Russian informants in London”.

“To the Embassy’s knowledge, our compatriots have met these tricks skeptically and even sarcastically. These publications would have been unworthy of a public comment, if they weren’t leading to a further escalation of tensions and distrust towards Russians living in Britain. We regretfully note that this is going on with the connivance of the British authorities,” the embassy said.

“Official rhetoric concerning efforts against money laundering has already created a “toxic” aura around hundreds of Russian businessmen, and it is now spreading to thousands of taxpayers, who have decided to reside in Britain,” it said.

The “sensational” reports about the number of Russian agents allegedly operating in London were published on Tuesday by Daily Telegraph, The Sun and Daily Star. The figures, mentioned in the report and disseminated by many UK newspapers, baffled BBC Russian Service and its experts. According to the broadcasting corportation, the assumption of “75,000 potential Russian spies in the UK capital alone” is based on a 2014 Guardian report, which puts the number of Russians living in London at 150,000. However, according to the UK Office for National Statistics, the number of people of Russian descent in the entire United Kingdom stands at about 66,000.

Earlier, the Russian embassy has repeatedly said that London had launched an unprecedented anti-Russian media campaign, which is to coincide with another wave of spy mania in the country.

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