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Dutch opposition parties question expulsion of Russian diplomats

Opposition parties in the Dutch House of Representatives are still not convinced that Russia has earned the punitive measures taken by the Netherlands and other European countries.

Published: March 28, 2018, 9:28 am

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    PVV leader Geert Wilders thinks that the cabinet has set the wrong priorities. “Russian diplomats are expelled from the country without hard evidence, but hate-incarnate imams are allowed to stay and returned Syria-goers roam freely in our streets,” he tweeted.

    Wilders paid a visit to Moscow at the beginning of this month to counter the “hysterical Russophobia” that prevails in the Netherlands.

    The Socialist Party pointed out that the Netherlands itself has no evidence that Russia had a hand in the assassination attempt on double spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

    They have only the suspicions of the British as authority. “Previously, Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs could not answer the question of guilt,” said Member of Parliament Sadet Karabulut. “Does the Netherlands have information now? I’m very curious about it!”

    Government parties CDA and VVD defended their decision and added that it was good that European countries increased the pressure on Russia. VVD Member of Parliament Bente Becker detected “Russian fingerprints” on the affair and said added sanctions against Russia would “bring the truth to the table”.

    Her CDA colleague Martijn van Helvert said it was necessary to resolve conflicts with Russia by “setting our own limits,” but added that the Cabinet was not very consistent. According to Van Helvert: “I do not understand that in this incident the EU clearly indicated our borders, while we do not do that during the illegal war of the Turkish president Erdogan in North-Syrian Afrin.”

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meanwhile has commented on the expulsion of Russian diplomats from some EU states, as well as US, Canada, Australia and a number of other counties over the Skripal case.

    “The conclusion that emerges from this situation is that we were right when we stressed several times how few independent countries remain in the modern world, in modern Europe,” the Russian Foreign told the media on the sidelines of the international conference on Afghanistan in Tashkent.

    “These statements [from politicians in Washington and London] offend the system of Anglo-Saxon British justice. The situation reflects the desire of the ruling elites not to listen to the voice of the people, “Lavrov told reporters.

    “I was shown today the [German] Die Welt newspaper, in which they conducted a survey, polling people whether to impose new sanctions against Russia. More than 80 percent answered negative. So, the mechanisms of direct democracy also need to be used more often,” he added.

    British intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia were exposed to a harmful substance, claimed by the UK authorities to be a Novichok-class nerve agent, on March 4. The British side claims that the Russian state is involved in the case, as substance A234 was allegedly developed in the Soviet Union.

    Russia has denied these claims, calling them unfounded.

    Skripal and his daughter were represented in the British High Court last week by a London lawyer named Vikram Sachdeva QC. He refused to answer questions about his role or his clients and has not contacted the Skripal’s relatives in Russia at all.

    His appointment by the British authorities does not establish his independence. According to last week’s court record, he “supported much that Mr [James] Eadie [lawyer representing the British Government] submitted.”

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