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Russian envoy urges OPCW to end ‘office-based investigations’ of Syria

The diplomat also spoke about the Investigation and Identification Team

THE HAGUE, November 28. /TASS/. Alexander Shulgin, the Russian envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has said that Russia continues to insist that the group end its practice of conducting Syria-related investigations without traveling to the sites of the incidents, according to his speech at the 27th Conference of the States Parties that opened on Monday.

"Russia has repeatedly said that it’s a pressing issue that the Fact-Finding Mission into allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria should come into full compliance with OPCW standards," he said in the speech, a copy of which has been obtained by TASS. "We continue to insist that it’s necessary to put an end to office-based investigations that are done without traveling to incident sites, without a selection of samples by inspectors of the Technical Secretariat and also without following the sequence of actions for ensuring the preservation of evidence."

The diplomat also spoke about the Investigation and Identification Team. Shulgin said its existence is not stipulated by the OPCW's mandate, and its activities go beyond the scope of the Chemical Weapons Convention and encroach on the purview that’s reserved exclusively for the UN Security Council.

"We regard the decision to deprive Syria of its rights and privileges, which was based on the conclusions of the IIT in the style of ‘highly likely’ and ‘reasonable grounds to believe,’ as nothing but a cynical reprisal against a sovereign state party and a de facto disruption of efforts to make the convention more universal," the envoy said.