Ambassador Antonov's Opening Remarks at Maxim Grigoriev’s Press Conference
Today we have invited you to discuss the situation around one so called “humanitarian organization” operating in Syria. Its official name is “Syrian Civil Defense”, but it is better known as the White Helmets. It was founded in 2014 by Western intelligence agencies amid the domestic political crisis in Syria. It gained publicity by posting photos and videos on the Internet demonstrating destruction and casualties resulting, as claimed by Western representatives, from the actions of the Syrian Government and its allies.
We have information that clearly shows that these photos and videos were staged. The White Helmets have totally disgraced their reputation by staging chemical attacks, artillery and air strikes, as well as by killing civilians, including women and children.
There is hard evidence confirming that the White Helmets have strong ties to terrorist organizations, that its members commit robbery and looting, seize and disrupt the operation of schools, kindergartens, hospitals, fire stations, stores and orphanages. Moreover, the White Helmets have assisted in expanding recruitment activities of terrorist organizations.
All relevant information, also received from open sources, has already been presented by Russia, particularly at the UN. We have brought this issue into the spotlight of the attention of international community, which, regrettably, most of the time continues to entertain groundless illusions about the true nature of the White Helmets’ activities. Unfortunately, stabilization of the situation in Syria has not convinced the White Helmets of the need to stop their provocations.
Today’s event has been prompted by information from different sources that the White Helmets in collaboration with the terrorists of “Jabhat al-Nusra” are preparing another provocation with the use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Province located in the northwest of Syria. Its goal, as in the case of previously staged attacks, is to accuse the Syrian army of using poisonous substances, and thus discredit the Syrian authorities. The best-case scenario for terrorists would be to force their Western sponsors to launch illegitimate strikes on the Syrian territory.
This time, according to our information, ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’ fighters and the White Helmets’ representatives perform joint practical exercises on elimination of consequences of using poisonous substances. As well as preparations for media coverage of the staged events, aiming to boost their disinformation campaign and to exert manipulative emotional influence on foreign public that is not aware of true intentions of the White Helmets.
We must fill this gap and shed light on the real situation with the subversive activities of the White Helmets. We have invited a Russian expert, Director of “The Foundation for the Study of Democracy”, Mr. Maxim Grigoriev. He has done enormous work – held over 100 interviews with civilians, former members of the White Helmets and illegal militant groups.
After his speech, everyone will have a chance to ask questions. Don’t be surprised if the information in his report contradicts the leading Western media outlets. They are biased in following their guidelines to keep silent about the real situation around the White Helmets.
(Closing remarks) Concluding Remarks let me thank Mr. Grigoriev for his comprehensive and interesting report, and all participants – for your close attention and genuine interest to the aspects of WhiteHelmet’s activities, that are little known here. I presume that today’s event has been timely, important and necessary.
The relevance of this topic, which proves that certain countries have double standards on counterterrorism, is out of the question. That’s why I suggest considering today’s briefing as the first one in a series of similar events.