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Russia calls to improve work of OPCW fact-finding mission in Syria — envoy

November 10, 2017, 0:54 UTC+3

"It is necessary to have a close look at how to make the mission’s work more efficient and effective," Russia's OPCW envoy said

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THE HAGUE, November 9. /TASS/. The activities of the fact-finding mission in Syria of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) need to be seriously improved, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on Thursday.

"It is necessary to have a close look at how to make the mission’s work more efficient and effective," he said at a meeting of the OPCW executive council. "Regrettably, it is failing to cope with its tasks." In his words, it often "deviates from the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention."

The Russian representative stressed that investigations must involve visits to the sites of incidents. "Otherwise, all material evidence reaches the fact-finding mission through third parties. And it means that the basic principle of the sequence of actions to ensure integrity of evidence is violated," he said, adding that in this case "everything the fact-finding mission presents as material evidence are void things" that cannot be taken as evidence, either primary or secondary.

"But due to some reasons, these things are given as a reliable evidentiary basis," Shulgin noted. "Moreover, they say there is no need to visit the site as all the samples are collected."

Apart from that, he reminded that the Russia side has questions about the composition of the fact-finding mission. "In particular, we are worried that it includes experts only from those states whose governments openly demonstrate hostile attitudes to Syria’s legitimate authorities," he noted. "And this is taken as a norm. But is it admissible that the fact-finding mission, like other missions dealing with Syrian problems, is spearheaded by representatives of a country, which ardently supports forces in opposition to official Damascus and openly, including through its foreign ministry, declares its antagonism of the current regime?"

The Russian representatives called to invite to the fact-finding mission Russian and Iranian experts. Moreover, in his words, the mission should also be tasked to identify means of delivery of toxic agents. "It stems from the Convention," Shulgin stressed. "Only in this case, it will become clear which chemical weapons were used.".

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