There are several points that we would like to stress in relation to the issues you are considering to include in your series. First of all, we are appalled by the whole method the BBC uses in this particular work, defining the Russian position or statements as “false”, apparently by default, without providing any evidence. Moreover, judging by your letter, it is Russia which has to do the job of persuading the BBC in credibility of its actions and statements, rather than vice versa. We do not think this peculiar form of journalism should be considered a professional one by any standards.
Referring to the subject of the BBC Series – White Helmets and James Le Mesurier – the Russian position is well-founded. Vast amounts of evidence on the ground as well as intelligence information which Russia has at its disposal unequivocally point to direct links between the White Helmets and terrorist organisations operating in Syria. Various reports, presentations, films, video footage and photos have been shown to the international community both by the Russian authorities and civil society actors in Russia and in the West to highlight the provocative and illegitimate nature of the work carried out by the White Helmets. They have performed a number of cynical actions aimed at discrediting the Syrian authorities and promoting the Western narrative centered around a regime change in Damascus. This includes fake and false-flag chemical attacks, spreading disinformation, etc.
On James Le Mesurier, it is credibly known that he was an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. Russia has solid information on his links with terrorist organizations in Syria as well as in Kosovo. James Le Mesurier was found dead soon after these links were exposed. Speculations on Russian involvement in his death, convenient as they are, are part of a deliberate disinformation campaign against Russia, in which the BBC is sadly participating.
Turning to Vanessa Beeley as well as other researchers and investigative journalists, it is important to understand and admit that the views that do not follow UK official statements cannot be automatically referred to as “discredited” – you have to discredit them first, provide facts that contradict them or are inconsistent with them. Ms Beeley is just one of many open minded and independent experts, including those from the OPCW, who express serious and well-founded concerns over the suspicious nature of the “chemical attacks” in Syria.
It is quite odd to use the expression “misleading and unevidenced claims” with regards to the false flag chemical attacks and the surrounding circumstances when even one of your colleagues, Riam Dalati, BBC’s Syria producer, tweeted on 13 February 2019: “After 6 months of investigations, I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged”.
During their visit to the site of that alleged attack, a group of Russian experts gathered evidence, including testimonies of local residents, who had been paid to take part in the “performance” by the White Helmets. The report by Maxim Grigoryev, Director of The Foundation for Democracy Studies, proving the staged nature of those incidents, can be found here: http://democracyfund.ru/userfiles/THE%20%20WHITE%20HELMETS%20.pdf.
Some witnesses have also spoken publicly to the media and given statements in person at the OPCW Headquarters. Unfortunately, neither the report, which was presented in London and several other capitals, nor the statements of witnesses have received good coverage in the UK media, including the BBC. This is a further manifestation of your biased approach to the issue.
It is upsetting that the UK Government continues to defend and support those who use Syrian civilians in their games. We urge the UK Government to reconsider its position towards the White Helmets and, more broadly, to the Syrian conflict in order to bring peace and stability back to Syria.Official Russian Embassy UK response to BBC “documentary” on Mayday Rescue