Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova's response to a media question concerning The Washington Post’s latest piece of disinformation

June 30, 2016

Question: The Washington Post has published another story alleging that Russian law enforcement agencies have used force against a US diplomat. Can you comment on this?

Maria Zakharova
: Unfortunately, lately, The Washington Post has been actively used by the US State Department and special services for spreading distorted or clearly false information about the alleged harassment of US diplomats in Russia. The article published on June 29 went as far as to invent an “attack” on a US diplomat by an “FSB guard.” In reality here is what happened.

On the night of June 5-6, a taxi arrived outside the US embassy compound in Moscow. An unknown man in a cap pulled down over his face jumped out of the taxi and rushed to the checkpoint. The Russian police officer who was on duty there asked to see the suspicious man’s ID to make sure that there was no threat to the diplomatic mission but instead of showing his ID, the man hit the officer in the face with his elbow. In the ensuing scuffle, the unidentified person shoved the guard aside and disappeared into the embassy.

So, the newspaper story not simply distorts the information but is in conflict with facts. The police officer on duty was attacked, which is confirmed by the video surveillance camera recording that was handed over to the State Department. In addition, when it became known that the attacker was a US diplomat, the Foreign Ministry strongly protested to the US embassy.

It is known that this diplomat is in fact a CIA officer. That night he was returning from a reconnaissance operation, disguising himself. Either he had been too nervous as a result or simply wanted to slip through unrecognised, and so he refused to show his diplomatic card, and when he was challenged, he raised his hands to the officer.

Actually, The Washington Post’s interlocutors made no secret of the fact that the diplomatic passport was only a cover for him. However, the broken shoulder is a piece of fiction. Otherwise how would the diplomat with this kind of injury, after breaking into the embassy, have calmly brushed his hair in front a mirror? This is precisely the scene that was captured on the video that the Americans themselves showed us.

I should add that US diplomats themselves have asked for Russian police guards at the US embassy. What’s more, they regularly request tighter security arrangements. Meanwhile, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, our police officers meticulously and faithfully perform their duties ensuring the security of the embassy compound, including by protecting it from access by suspicious persons, as in this case. The US side should thank the police officer who duly performed his duty by challenging the night visitor who refused to identify himself, and punish its “diplomat” who behaved like a hooligan accordingly.

Again, we regret that Washington continues to damage bilateral relations, including through provocation and disinformation. This course will not lead to any good.