Experts from Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova: Russian flags torn down by US authorities

October 12, 2017

Another hostile action by US authorities against our diplomatic missions came to light yesterday. Russian flags were torn down from the buildings of the Russian Trade Mission in Washington and the Consulate General in San Francisco earlier seized by US special service agents.
We regard this incident as desecration of the state symbol of Russia. We have already lodged a strong protest with the United States. Of course, Russia did not issue any consent to have the flags removed. It was done by the people who had earlier trespassed on Russian property, broke down the gates and entrance doors, and have since been lording around the place like invaders.
The US State Department claims that we are not being deprived of property rights to these buildings are outright hypocrisy. I can officially confirm that Russian employees are not allowed there. In recent months, Russian representatives have been denied access to five Russian diplomatic properties in the United States. This is unprecedented in the history of Russia-US relations.
In addition to openly attacking our flags, the Americans do not conceal the fact that they had rummaged through our papers in the Consulate General, after they forced out its employees. This is despite the fact that, under the Consular Convention, consular archives are inviolable at all times and all places, even after the consular office closes.
To reiterate, we often hear a number of high-ranking officials and employees of various US government agencies say that we are citing documents, while they are new to their jobs, and are not familiar with such documents. Maybe it’s time to read them already? In particular, go over the Consular Convention, which regulates much of what is now being done by the United States in violation of governing laws and regulations.
One may think that certain American political forces steeped in Russophobia are acting in concert with the secret services, and consciously destroying relations between our two countries as best they can. By the way, perhaps they are doing so for a reason in order to create an unfavourable environment for new US Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, as he begins his work here.
Of course, Russians are patient people, but we can’t put up with cowboy manners indefinitely. We have already issued several reminders that the principle of reciprocity has always been and remains the cornerstone of diplomacy. So, we believe that when the US intelligence services broke into Russian diplomatic missions, searched them, and tore down the flags (it was broadcast almost live), the US authorities thus agreed to the possibility of a similar approach to their missions in Russia.
Russia will decide on its response.