MOSCOW, February 14. /TASS/. Moscow believes it is its sovereign right to give names to islands of the Kuril Ridge, because they are an integral part of Russian territory, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Russia was determined to maintain positive dynamics in bilateral relations.
"We appreciate the newly-developed positive dynamics in our bilateral relations (with Japan), and we are determined to support it in every possible way," Peskov said.
At the same time he remarked that "the islands of the Kuril Ridge certainly remain Russian territory, because in this particular case the issue on the agenda is the sovereign right (to give names to them)."
The Japanese government earlier lodged a protest with Russia over the decision to give names to five unnamed islands of the Kuril Ridge.
"This is unacceptable and runs counter to Japan’s stance," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. However, in his opinion this step "should not influence" progress in the talks with Moscow on a peace treaty. Suga said "the existence of such problems (as the renaming of the islands - TASS) underscores the importance of resolving the territorial dispute."
"We are going to continue persistent talks with the Russian side," he said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier signed an instruction to give names to five South Kuril islands that have remained unnamed so far. One of the five islands was named after the legendary Soviet diplomat, foreign minister and parliament speaker Andrey Gromyko and another, after the world’s first-ever woman to serve as a captain of an ocean-going vessel, Anna Shchetinina.
The proposals for naming the islands were drafted by the Sakhalin branch of the Russian Geographic Society. Its chairman Sergey Ponomaryov has told TASS the first five names were taken from a list of fifteen.
Since the middle of last century Moscow and Tokyo have conducted intermittent consultations on drafting a peace treaty based on the results of World War II. Sovereignty over the southern islands of the Kuril Ridge - Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan and a number of small uninhabitable islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge referred to as Hambomai in Japan, were taken over by the Soviet Union upon the end of World War II. Tokyo disputes the sovereignty over the islands. As the Russian Foreign Ministry has said more than once, Russia’s sovereignty over the islands has a corresponding international legal basis to rely on and is unquestionable.