Be wary of terror funds under COVID aid guise:Russia

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Sputnik Vaccine to be supplied soon Full support at UNHRC sessions Substantial rise in bilateral trade

Russian Ambassador Yury Materiy has cautioned the Sri Lankan Government to focus attention on terrorist funding being funneled under the pretence of COVID-19 aid.

The Ambassador made this observation when he called on Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retired) Sarath Weerasekara. The Ambassador offered the support of relevant authorities in Russia to effectively marginalize such groups.

“Many extremist groups have been moving funds for terror activities and have additionally carried out such operations via the trade and trafficking of narcotics under the cover of humanitarian assistance for Muslim organisations and charities,” the Ambassador said.

Minister Weerasekara stated that the Government, appointed in 2019, has taken steps to strengthen the intelligence groups and their functionalities after the bitter lessons learned following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.

The Minister thanked the Russian Ambassador on his continued and loyal support to Sri Lanka in terms of economic and political support.

The Ambassador pointed out that despite the global pandemic there has been successful economic cooperation between the two countries and bilateral trade has increased by nearly 36 per cent.

The Ambassador also said that the Sputnik V vaccine manufactured by the world famous Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow to counter the COVID-19 pandemic is to be sent to Sri Lanka shortly, adding that a Memorandum of Understanding and Framework Agreement have been signed between the two countries for its distribution under close coordination between the two Ministries of Health. There is also a plan to partner this vaccine with the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to boost immunity further.

In relation to the resolutions to be passed on Sri Lanka at the United National Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Minister Weerasekera reminded the Ambassador that those contained unverified and prejudicial facts on Sri Lanka’s humanitarian operation of May 2009. The Russian Ambassador expressed Russia’s firm support to Sri Lanka at the upcoming UNHRC sessions in Geneva in March 2021, and to defeat any motion filed at the forum by interested parties and Tamil Diaspora lobbies.

The Ambassador also inquired into the investigations on the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in 2019. Minister Weerasekara responded that 267 suspects have been remanded after the eight blasts and currently all criminal investigations have been completed and handed over to the Attorney General’s Department for further action.

The Ambassador urged Ministry level participation from Sri Lanka for two International Security forums to be held in Russia in the summer of 2021 depending on any travel restrictions that would be in force by that time.

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