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Russia presents demarche to Washington over taking its children to US without notification

The US Department of State earlier informed the Russian Foreign Ministry that it was rolling back its student exchange program in the US in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic
Russia’s Foreign Ministry Gennady Khamelyanin/TASS
Russia’s Foreign Ministry
© Gennady Khamelyanin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has presented a demarche to the US Embassy in Moscow and the US Department of State over the fact that dozens of Russian schoolchildren were taken to that country without notifying and obtaining consent of the Russian authorities, the ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said on Tuesday.

"We also demanded explanations on which grounds they [Russian schoolchildren] were taken to the United States. We presented corresponding demarches to the Department of State and the US Embassy in Moscow," the diplomat said in a commentary. "No response has come so far."

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is now collecting information about the number and whereabouts of Russian schoolchildren staying in the United States under educational programs, Maria Zakharova added.

"We would like to stress that the Russian Foreign Ministry was not notified about any programs for Russian schoolchildren in the United States. Their implementation was not coordinated with anyone. These programs were carried out in secret from the Russian authorities," she commented. "We are taking efforts to obtain exhaustive information about our schoolchildren, including their number, their names and locations, the names of educational establishments, and contacts of those who were responsible for their sojourn in the United States."

Several dozens of Russian children are now in a difficult situation in the United States in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the spokeswoman highlighted. "It has emerged that several dozens children from a number of Russian regions who came to the United States to study at US educational establishments are now in a difficult situation. Our embassy in Washington was informed about that by the US Department of State, without any details," Zakharova revealed.

"They only told us that seventy-four Russian high school students had arrived in the United States under the State Department’s Secondary School Student Program alone. Now the implementation of this program is being rolled back urgently because of the pandemic. The receiving side bears no responsibility for the children and have not yet even provided any concrete data about their whereabouts," she said.

The Russian diplomat stressed that all programs involving Russian children must be agreed and coordinated with the Russian authorities and placed the responsibility for the consequences of the current situation on the US side.

"Naturally, the Russian Foreign Ministry and diplomatic missions in the United States are sparing no effort to find the children," she said. "We would be grateful to their parents and schools for any additional information that may help us."

According to the Johns Hopkins University’s latest update, more than 583,200 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States. As many as 23,709 patents have died.

"As far back as 2014, Russia had to pull out from the US Department of State’s FLEX program of school exchanges. It did so because its organizers were unable to guarantee safe return of Russian children," she stressed. "We had to cancel such programs but Washington opted to continue to act in secret. This trick has surfaced in the critical situation."