British Council responds to being shut down in Russia

British Council responds to being shut down in Russia


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2018

Saturday 17 March 2018


We can now confirm the reports today that the British Council in Russia has been told to cease operations.

We are profoundly disappointed at this development. It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become difficult, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions.

We remain committed to the development of long-term people-to-people links with Russia as we do in over 100 other countries.


  • buxtehude says:

    Don’t we all. And yet the pendulum on this is passing toward the divide-side.

    Not right away — Britain is too weak, and too badly led, to make more of a show of opposition. But it will come.

    • Una says:

      Don’t underestimate the leadership of our British establishment! He who makes the most noise doesn’t necessarily promote good leadership.

      • Raouf Zaidan says:

        Una makes a good point here . That Putin had to take such a radical anti British step only reveals how deeply guilty he feels about his murderous behavior . Like all dictators , he does not like to be called on his bad behavior . It is a sad day that the greatness of Russia is diminished by the thuggish regime of Putin . Stalin and other dictators have had their notorious days in the sun before . The circle of history will in the future put such odious dictators in their right place .

    • C Porumbescu says:

      A nation of 140 million has an economy half the size of a nation of 70 million: the figures alone tell you all to need to know about relative strength, as does a leadership whose potency rests on displays of arbitrary violence and petty cultural bullying. The mentality of Anglophones who profess to admire that sort of “leadership” is a fascinating psychological study in its own right – what deep need is fulfilled by this slavering admiration of balding, blustering “strong men”? – but I’m not sure it has anything genuinely useful to tell us.

      Tchaikovsky, Chekhov and Shostakovich don’t really come into this; still less Shakespeare, Dickens and Britten, and all intelligent people of other nationalities have always know that.

      • Anon says:

        Hmmm, in fact though, in the global perspective, displays of violence and bullying are on a much larger scale demonstrated by the US. But I guess you feel tribally closer to them and their demeanor, killing millions of brown and yellow people with good manners and in fine custom tailored clothing, speaks more to you as a citizen of the once likewise acting British Empire.

  • Rob says:

    Well I still love Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Rachmaninoff, Medtner, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Shostakovich.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    During the cold war the composers Benjamin Britten and Sir Malcolm Arnold visited Shostakovich. There is a story that Malcolm Arnold and Shostakovich held a conversation in the toilet of Shostakovish’s dacha with taps all running full on to avoid being bugged.

    Rostropovich, Richer and David Oistrakh all visited Britain and Rostrpovich had Britten’s Cello Symphony dedicated to him.

  • buxtehude says:

    @Rob and Tony: this is not about the composers you like, or of friendships between composers.

  • andrei says:

    Putin a tyrant like no other. Concerned by the growing numbers of russians learning english, he is trying to contain western influence. He will land in the history bin like no other.

  • Rob says:

    The sooner May and Putin are kicked out the better. Fresh start on all sides.

    • pooroperaman says:

      May’s done nothing wrong.

      • Gregor Tassie says:

        This is a clearly orchestrated exercise by the British government and the mainstream media to hype up the cold war (yes there is one) and destroy normal relations, there is no evidence at all of any attacks by the Russian govt or any of its agencies, in the land of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, I would have expected the British media to come up with something a bit more substantial. In future years some people are going to be hanging their heads in shame….

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Can you back up your claims with credible sources?

          • Anon says:

            Does he have to? The burden of proof lies with the other side. And ‘cui bono’ requires us to look into many directions.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            No, he doesn’t *have to*. Just as nobody *has to* take seriously any unsubstantiated claims that are diametrically opposed to information reported at credible sources.

          • Anon says:

            What information from credible sources do we have, that the source of the poison is actively Russia and/or Russians? AFAIK none!

            And what’s the likelihood that Russia would kill that man with that method? Couldn’t they have killed him much easier and hidden while he was still prisoner in Russia? It doesn’t make any sense. ‘Cui bono’ is not sufficient as proof itself either, but it is a legitimate and important question here leading the investigation.

    • Dave says:

      Who exactly is going to kick out Putin? Keep dreaming.

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    I would like to see the UK govt back up its claims from any credible sources, so far they haven’t because its all part of a massive ploy to build up more spending by the UK govt on armaments, Williamson minister for defence wants 50% more spent to defend ourselves from the ‘Russian threat’. Military industrial complex wins…..

  • collin says:

    “people-to-people links with Russia”

    It already exists: Russian billionaire oligarchs who invest in London and British Petroleum who invests in Russian oil. The killing of an ex-spy by his motherland on foreign land is not going to jeopardize the financial interests the British and Russian financial elite have in each other. Not even Boris Johnson (what a perfect Anglo-Russo symbiotic name in this affair) is going to do anything to jeopardize this relationship/

    • Alexander says:

      + 100, let’s see who will make additional bunch of money while all the world is busy talking all that neuro-agent fuss . All English Mother Theresa and her (almost Godunov ) Boris are the pawns in this billionaires game ( hopefully they are paid enough not to be offended) 😉 Norman is on the entertainment side , I can guess 😉

      • Ellingtonia says:

        Do you speak English, if so could we have a translation of that last piece of drivel you posted?

        • Alexander says:

          if you somehow are on the side of All English Mother Theresa or (almost Godunov) Boris it ( any way) doesn’t give you the right to use direct insult speech patterns like “drivel” 😉 … The only thing is evident judging from your sentence – you are ( obviously) not of noble origin, unless you are preparing yourself to perform Maria Stuarda or so 😉

          • Furzwängler says:

            It was a perfectly reasonable comment for Ellingtonia to make in response to the almost incomprehensible drivel you posted.

          • Anon says:

            I personally find Alexander’s comments more sensible and connected to reality than most here.

          • Alexander says:

            thank y’all for the attention to my modest person 😉 I think ( biased, as usual, though) Anon is closer to the truth than others , I always speak what I think and never show off 😉