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British council to close in Russia?

 
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jonniboy



Joined: 18 Jun 2006
Posts: 751
Location: Panama City, Panama

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:47 pm    Post subject: British council to close in Russia? Reply with quote

This, part of the ongoing diplomatic spat between Russia and UK, looks very dodgy for English teachers.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3039138.ece

The Foreign Office today angrily rejected a Kremlin demand that the British Council close down all its operations in Russia except for those of its headquarters in Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said this morning that the Council, which promotes British culture and offers English language lessons through its 15 regional offices in Russia, had no legal basis for its operations and should close down its regional offices by the new year.

The move was seen as a retaliation for the expulsion of four Russian diplomats from Britain in July, in a continuing row over the murder in London last year of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. British prosecutors have named Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB agent, as the prime suspect in the murder, but Moscow has refused to extradite him.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that the activities of the Council were compliant with both international and Russian law under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and a bilateral cultural agreement from 1994.

"The British Council engages in a broad and hugely popular range of activity across Russia, which directly benefits hundreds of thousands of ordinary Russians," she said.

"It is a cultural, not a political institution and we strongly reject any attempt to link it to Russia’s failure to co-operate with our efforts to bring the murder of Alexander Litvinenko to justice."

The Council itself said that it had no plans to close down its offices in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, and was backed by Gordon Brown, whose official spokesman told reporters: "We, the Council and its Russian partner organisations have every intention that its programme will continue."

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that a new bilateral agreement to regulate the Council's activities, drawn up after the diplomatic expulsions from the UK in July, had not been signed. He also accused the Council, a registered charity, of violating Russian tax laws.

Tony Halpin, the Times's Moscow correspondent, said that the move appeared to be a diplomatic flexing of muscles by Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, who cemented his grip on power after anointing his successor this week.

Mr Putin recommended on Monday that Dmitri Medvedev, his 42-year-old protege, should be the next President, and Mr Medvedev then indicated that Mr Putin should be the next Prime Minister of Russia, keeping the immensely popular head of state at the heart of power in the Kremlin.

"What is really behind this is another effort to squeeze British interests, in the row the began over Litvinenko," said Halpin.

"It is election season now, and Mr Putin thinks he is completely invulnerable and can do what he likes. Relations between Britain and Russia are very, very strained, so squeezing out the British Council is a way of demonstrating how bad those relations have become.

"Moscow has never been very happy with the fact that the British Council gives English lessons and runs exams - they see it as a contamination with unwelcome ideas.

"The Kremlin has always been terrified of a repeat of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which it has seen as having been fomented by foreign NGOs using foreign money.

"The British Council is a very high profile organisation, one of the best-known organisations in the world, and if Moscow can wage war on the council then it sends a powerful message to all the other foreign NGOs."
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rusmeister



Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 867
Location: Russia

PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is unfortunate, but seems bound to affect only teachers who work for the British Council (or other NGOs). I thought they had had teaching operations shelved months ago.
Doesn't appear to affect the rest of us.
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1132
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:30 pm    Post subject: Unfortunately yes, except in Moscow. Reply with quote

As Ivanov said,it's all 'tit for tat' and may just be a temporary measure,but the cost of them recinding it is our agreeing to drop the Litvinkenko/Lugovoy case, so forget it!It will not affect teachers directly but does affect Russians in St Petes. and Yekaterinburg who appreciated this very useful facility.Not a good sign, just like many other negative developments in Russia recently...
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zeke0606



Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 185
Location: East Outer Mongolia

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:55 pm    Post subject: what? Reply with quote

Well, think about this --- with the enforcement of the visa laws and if the BC must leave, those of us that are the survivors and still live here will now command a very good salary and other benefits!
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1132
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:22 am    Post subject: ???? Reply with quote

Logically yes-the people that stay SHOULD be able to take advantage of the situation but remember you are dealing with Russia,where logic does not apply!
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Serious_Fun



Joined: 28 Jun 2005
Posts: 1171
Location: terra incognita

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.moscowtimes.ru/stories/2008/01/10/017.html
Quote:
British Council Office Defies Order
The Moscow Times

The British Council's office in Yekaterinburg opened after the extended holiday season Wednesday, defying a demand by the Foreign Ministry to suspend its activities until the British Embassy clarifies its status, Interfax reported.

Last month, the ministry ordered the British Council to close its offices in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg on Jan. 1.

But the Yekaterinburg office defied the order, and the St. Petersburg office will follow suit on Monday, said Yelena Chesnokova, a spokeswoman for the British Embassy's Consulate General in Yekaterinburg.

"The issue of the status [of the two offices] is currently being resolved on the diplomatic level," she said, Interfax reported.

The council, which is funded by the British government, acts as the cultural arm of the British Embassy.

The Foreign Ministry says the British Council should register as a nongovernmental organization and that it operates for profit since it makes money by offering paid English language courses.
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:30 am    Post subject: Re: what? Reply with quote

zeke0606 wrote:
Well, think about this --- with the enforcement of the visa laws and if the BC must leave, those of us that are the survivors and still live here will now command a very good salary and other benefits!

Think so? That would require the students paying more than they do now, and I don't think that's going to happen.

More likely scenario if the number of expat teachers is reduced is that more Russians will be doing the work for the same pay expats are getting now.
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BELS



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 402
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The british Council school closed down last year, all that was left ws the additional services such as examinations for qualifications such as IELTS, YLE, PET, CAE etc.And some assistance of info about having an eduution in Britain. That was it, now the Russian government want to shut down all these offices outside Moscow. Probably they don't want Moscow shut down, because they might take the library with them.

So to sum up, it won't make any difference in regards to competition for teachers or shools, as It had already happened. The strange thing about it is that will be a greater loss to Russians, but they don't appear to see it that way. Perhaps they would like all British companies to leave Russia, including BP, cadburies, shell, etc. Now where would that put Russia. Back to the eighties??
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1132
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: A very good question Bels, Reply with quote

I had a discussion about this with some expat. execs. at a blue-chip firm I taught at there a couple of years ago.It's money of course and even though they agreed that the Russians were already getting 'stroppy' then the overseas firms that were investing in Russia as multi-nationals were making enough profits to justify the hassle they faced with 'backhanders'to the bureaucrats etc.It's such a vast market which they see as long-term potential rather one to make quick bucks in.Even if they decided to pull-out next week,they could afford to write-off any losses involved.
But I have no doubt that if Russia had no essential natural resources etc. which everyone needs they would have been left to rot ages ago...
This also explains why Putin can get away with doing more or less what he likes to his own people,while others such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe are the subject of international criticism..
As Ivanov said,this business with the British Council is just diplomatic 'tit-for-tat' after Britains action over the Lugovoy/Litvinenko case.
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BELS



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 402
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: what? Reply with quote

zeke0606 wrote:
Well, think about this --- with the enforcement of the visa laws and if the BC must leave, those of us that are the survivors and still live here will now command a very good salary and other benefits!


Very true, and I think it has already happened a there are less of us. Time for touh bagaining with our customers or employers, whicheve applies to you.

But as stated, the teaching section of the BC had already quited last year, and some of the teachers had nice big pay-offs and sent somewhere nicer like Sunny Spain. They were smiling Smile
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1132
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:27 pm    Post subject: No middle road? Reply with quote

I agree with you-either ex-pats will be able to name their price or will gradually be phased out in favour of Russian teachers who don't need any work permits or visas etc.The exceptions will be those very few ex-pats who have managed to get residency permits.
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The other possibility is that big schools with the right connections will be able to get the required visas for their teachers, and will end up dominating the market even more than they do now. So the average expat teacher might well be making less than they do now.

BTW I work for a small school, and they don't seem concerned about getting the necessary visas for teachers in the years ahead. Maybe it's not so much as obstacle as we might think.
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BELS



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 402
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

canucktechie wrote:
The other possibility is that big schools with the right connections will be able to get the required visas for their teachers, and will end up dominating the market even more than they do now. So the average expat teacher might well be making less than they do now.

BTW I work for a small school, and they don't seem concerned about getting the necessary visas for teachers in the years ahead. Maybe it's not so much as obstacle as we might think.


And how are there employees going to work, apart from the fact that they are illegally employed. It has always has been that way, but they've got tougher as they now visit schools for such issues. Due to fact of much heftier fines and threat of deportation. And the school gets a much bigger fine.

And let's not forget about solving the problem of 90 days in and ninety days out.

Actually I've found the opposite, looking at the vacancies in expat.ru there are many more schools now offering visa support, some of them I've never heard of before.
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BELS



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 402
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

canucktechie wrote:
The other possibility is that big schools with the right connections will be able to get the required visas for their teachers, and will end up dominating the market even more than they do now. So the average expat teacher might well be making less than they do now.

BTW I work for a small school, and they don't seem concerned about getting the necessary visas for teachers in the years ahead. Maybe it's not so much as obstacle as we might think.


How do you manage with your visa? The only way round it I think is if you have a residential visa, and an entrepeneurs and you bill the school as a freelancer. It's the only other legal way.
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