Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov has told a Russian TV channel that Ireland is at the forefront of the European Union in staging anti-Russian events.
In an extraordinary interview that has sparked concern among Russian residents of Ireland, Mr Filatov listed a number of complaints about the treatment of Russians in Ireland to Russia-24, the state-run Russian-language news channel.
In a week when the United Nations estimates that Russia’s bombing of civilians in their homes, schools and hospitals has forced a million people to flee Ukraine, the ambassador spoke of damage to the Russian embassy in Dublin by Irish protesters and of Russian children who have been bullied in Irish schools.
At one point in the six-minute Russian-language interview, which was broadcast on the state channel, which has an audience of millions of Russians, the ambassador said it was “probably hardly possible to talk about any relations between Russia and Ireland right now,” but added : “We mainly support a channel of communication with the Irish.”
In an interview with Russia-24, he claimed that the Irish did not understand the situation and took sides without analysis.
When asked about threats against Russians in Ireland at the start of the interview, which was also watched by thousands in Russia on YouTube, he said the situation was “frankly difficult” and protested that the media was showing a biased version of events in this regard would represent to Ukraine.
He said: “Of course, the general political situation is simply hostile to Russia and all Russia.
“Of course, a very negative role is played by the mass media, which paints an absolutely tendentious picture of events in Ukraine at the political level, but Ireland is at the forefront in the European Union and beyond in relation to various anti-Russian events.
“In that regard, it’s probably hardly possible to talk about any relations between Russia and Ireland right now. We mainly support a channel of communication with the Irish.
“That probably makes sense because even in these difficult times, there is a need.”
He quoted Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as suggesting that the West was “insane” about the invasion of Ukraine.
“As our minister Sergei Lavrov said in the interview, maybe they will stop going crazy in the West and understand where, what and how in reality, but for now we are dealing with what we have.”
YouTube channel Russia-24, which is currently inaccessible from Ireland, has 8.6 million subscribers.
The ambassador went viral worldwide on Six One News last week after an RTÉ interview in which presenter David McCullagh called the Russian ambassador an “apologist for carnage”.
There have been calls for Mr Filatov and other Russian diplomats to be expelled from Ireland over Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, but the Irish government has fought back, saying we must keep diplomatic channels open to help the Irish who are still located in Russia and Ukraine.
In a week when Amnesty International reported indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and hospitals by the Russian army, the ambassador said the Irish embassy in Rathmines, Dublin, was under “extreme tension”.
The embassy was the focus of the protests, with red paint thrown at the insignia at the front gate.
“We register constant threats against embassy staff, which we receive via email and phone calls,” said Mr. Filatov.
“There have been protest rallies next to the embassy for several days, often very rough and aggressive, but of course we are taking all security precautions.”
Speaking to his state TV channel, he expressed his concern that the Irish embassy’s front gate had been defaced, adding: “So-called art transcends all borders and is painted with everything it had.”
He said there was a “police presence” while the embassy continued to operate as usual, but added: “It’s not a simple psychological background.”
He said Russians came to the embassy with reports of children being bullied at school.
“It’s very sad because, in general, I think Irish people are friendly and accommodating, but sometimes, when they absolutely don’t understand the situation, they take sides without any analysis and act on that basis. Unfortunately, this affects our children who study here,” said Mr. Filatov.
When the Russia-24 interviewer asked if there was any way for embassy staff to protect our Russian citizens, the ambassador replied that it was important to protect the embassy first.
He said: “It’s reminiscent of a situation where you get safety instructions on the plane about the oxygen masks. The first rule is to put the mask on yourself and then help the others.”
When asked if Irish police were responding appropriately to complaints, he said they were “appropriate”.
He ended the interview by saying that there are around 10,000 Russian speakers in Ireland, almost half of whom are Russian citizens.
“As for tourists and people stuck here because of the difficulties in returning to Russia due to the closed airspace, we registered several dozen, maybe around 80, no more,” Mr Filatov said.
“Of course they have difficulties, but people are gradually leaving, there are detours to Russia via cities like Istanbul. It’s time for now.”
A senior member of the Russian community in Ireland said there were serious concerns about the interview and wanted to clarify that Ambassador Filatov did not represent the views of the Russian community in the country.
“Many Russians living in Ireland have taken to Twitter to express their objections to the interview and say that he does not represent them,” they said.
“They also know that making their views public means they cannot return to Russia until Putin is dead.
“It was on a major news program that anyone in Russia would have seen. It’s very hostile.”
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the Irish people’s perception of the war in Ukraine had been misrepresented by Mr Filatov.
Secretary Harris dismissed the Ambassador’s interview as a “distraction” and said it was far from surprising.
“Our disgust and horror is directed at the Putin regime and not at the people of Russia. The people of Russia will continue to be protected and welcome here — there are many in our schools and universities,” he said.
“For an ambassador to tell his own Russian television… misrepresenting the attitude of the Irish people is unfortunately not surprising at this time.”
“Of course it is [a misrepresentation of Irish stance]. In this country we continue to stand for democratic values and remain in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We will not be distracted by misinformation, disinformation or outright lies. The people of this country are very clear about what they expect from us, which is to stand by Ukraine and democratic values and to act together with the EU,” Minister Harris told RTÉ’s Drivetime.
Minister Harris said the “only fact” Minister Filatov alluded to was that relations between Russia and the West were “in shambles” because of the illegal invasion of Ukraine and their “horrific and disgusting behavior”.
Mr Harris said the government as a whole believed it should not act unilaterally by excluding the ambassador and his diplomatic team, although that remains “very much on the table” going forward.
“We should not be distracted by the theatrics of anyone trying to make propaganda at this sensitive time.”
There are 621 Ukrainians who have entered Ireland fleeing the conflict since the visa waiver was announced late last month, allowing unhindered travel from Ukraine to Ireland. The minister expects that doubling in the next week or so.
Ireland will not limit the number of Ukrainian refugees coming into the country, nor do the Irish people want a cap, the Minister for Higher Education and Training said.
The minister said it could be “more or less” than the envisaged figure of 20,000.
“This will continue in the spirit of a humanitarian crisis for the foreseeable future and I would ask the Irish people to consider the support they can offer now and in the months to come.”
The minister said a register for Irish people to offer Ukrainian refugees places in their homes would be approved “within days”. Mr Harris said English classes will be provided for those who need them and Ukrainian students will have access to the SUSI system to ensure “continuation of education”.
“To make sure Putin doesn’t succeed in what he intends to do to create a brain drain and destroy the next generation of Ukrainians. We can not permit that.
The minister said 14 Irish students in Ukraine had safely fled the war-torn country but three remained trapped in the Sumy region. He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is in hourly contact with them.
“Our DFA is doing its best to keep in touch with them and keep up to date with the best advice.
“I’d like to say they can leave tonight, but we need to make sure it’s done in a safe way. I hope that in the coming days we will see the establishment of humanitarian corridors,” Harris said.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ambassador-yuriy-filatov-tells-russian-state-tv-relations-with-ireland-hardly-exist-and-russian-children-are-being-bullied-here-41412759.html Ambassador Yuriy Filatov tells Russian state television that there are hardly any relations with Ireland and Russian children are bullied here