He may be one of the most controversial figures in the world right now, but it looks like Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s latest remark may cause even more outrage. And this time in Ukraine.
Russian lawmaker Dmitriy Sablin claims that Assad told him during today’s interview that his children recently attended Artek children’s camp. The Soviet-era camp is located in Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in March 2014.
“We aim to focus on working with youth,” Assad is quoted as saying by the Russian news agency TASS. “Last year, my kids went to the Artek [camp]. After this, they started to understand Russia better.”
“They just told me the other day that the Crimean bridge construction is about to be finished,” Assad allegedly said.
The interview seems to be part of Russian representatives’ visit to Damascus to meet with Assad. Russian media reported that lawmaker Sergei Zheleznyak and politician Andrey Turchak have also just arrived in Syria.
Sablin says that their meeting served a confirmation that “foreign media always lie about Syria.”
“They’ve claimed that he has gone to Iran with his family abandoning his own country. [But] he is at his place, working, counting on constructive cooperation with our country,” the Russian lawmaker said.
This is not the first time Artek has been involved in controversy since Crimea’s annexation. The now Kremlin-controlled management of the children’s center seems to have adopted an aggressive policy towards locals lately.
Earlier, local activist Igor Baryshnikov told Hromadske how Artek took over a big chunk of territory in the town of Gurzuf where it is located.
“We tried to prove our case in court, referring to the fact that this is municipal land and it does not belong to Artek. We had a second cassation, but it was a negative result for us,” he said.
/By Maria Romanenko