13 Nov 2020 13:56

British Council hopes organization will resume work in Russia

MOSCOW. Nov 13 (Interfax) - The issue of resuming the work of the British Council in Russia is currently not under consideration, but it is not ruled out that the office of this organization will reopen in Russia in due time, Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council, said in an interview with Interfax.

"We work very closely with colleagues from the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy, so British Council programmes are delivered through this section, and that works," he said.

"There will be a day when we have a British Council office, I am sure. And those conversations will take place. We are too busy this year, but some time in the future. So, I'm sure that day will come, but for now it's not getting in the way of programming, which I think both sides and both sets of partners recognize as very good and very productive," Sir Devane said.

Responding to a follow-up question as to whether there is understanding of what precisely needs to happen for that, he said, "I think time will help, not only because of the pandemic, but certainly because of the pandemic, we are more interested in making sure that the programmes themselves are as good and as successful as possible, and if we continue to deliver that, then, I think the time will come when we will look at what the ideal structure is. For now, for this year, I don't think it's at conversational level, it's getting in the way."

Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. On March 14, British Prime Minister Theresa May said London had decided to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the accident.

Russia retaliated by declaring 23 British diplomats personae non gratae and closing down the British Council due to the lack of regulations of its activities, as well as the general consulate in St. Petersburg. The British diplomatic staff was reduced by 50 people.

Meanwhile, asked about the progress on the issue of installing a monument to William Shakespeare in Moscow, Sir Devane said it can be expected in the coming weeks.

"I think we've agreed that we will go ahead with the second round, second call for Russian artists to design the sculpture, and I think over the next few months, maybe over the next few weeks, I think, there will be some progress on that," he said.

"I think that is a good example again of a project which is a legacy of the Year of Language and Literature at the time of 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. I think we're already confident that that will happen and we hope that the competition to select the sculpture will begin before too long," Sir Devane said.