The Duma demand security guarantees in Norway
Representatives of Russia’s Federal Assembly (the Duma) will not attend events in Norway without obtaining security guarantees from the Norwegian authorities, writes VG.
The backdrop is the imprisonment of Russian official Mikhail Botsjkarev, who was indicted as being a spy after attending an international IT seminar at the Norwegian Parliament in September.
– We expect an excuse and a guarantee that senators and employees of the Federal Assembly (The Duma) who attend events in Norway will be protected. We will not visit as long as there is no such guarantee in place, says President of the Russian Duma, Valentina Matvijenko. This according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which the Norwegian newspaper VG cites.
She says that the Federal Assembly will inform Norway officially that Russian politicians, under the current circumstances, cannot attend planned events in Norway. At the same time, she says that Russia is interested in restoring the good relationship with Norway.
– I hope that the Norwegians will admit their mistake, and we are ready to close this chapter, she continues, according to RIA Novosti.
Botsjkarev is still charged with breach of § 121 of the Norwegian Criminal Code on intelligence activities against state secrets but was released from custody last week due to lack of progress in the investigation by the Norwegian Security Service (PST). Russia has maintained that the charges against the Russian are groundless and have demanded an apology since day one.
The main reason for the arrest is that Botsjkarev allegedly showed too much interest in the printers located in the Parliament.
Facts about the Botsjkarev case
- On Friday, September 21, the Russian public servant, Mikhail Botsjkarev (51), was arrested at Gardermoen when he was to leave Norway. He is employed as a senior adviser in the Ministry of Information Technology in the Russian Federation Assembly, the Duma.
- Botsjkarev had participated in an IT seminar in the Norwegian Parliament under the auspices of the European Center for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD). There were 79 participants from 34 countries at the conference, mainly administrative staff in parliaments.
- During the seminar, it was reacted to that the Russian should have shown strange behaviour while at the conference, and PST was contacted.
- He was charged with violation of § 121 of the Norwegian Criminal Code on intelligence activities against state secrets.
- Was detained on September 22nd. The detainment was justified with the risk of eviction and the danger of destroying evidence.
- Botsjkarev rejects guilt and says he only made recordings during the seminar.
- Russian authorities have called the arrest a provocation, and have pointed to that Botsjkarev was invited by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget).
- PST asked for extended detention on Thursday, October 18th, but the Oslo District Court decided that Botsjkarev must be released due to lack of evidence. The PST appealed and asked for suspensive effect, which would mean that the Russians had to remain in custody until the appeal had been processed.
- On Friday, October 19th, PST announces that the appeal was withdrawn. Botsjkarev is released and returns to Russia via the Embassy in Oslo
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today