Awkward State Department Briefing

OPERATOR: Next we have a question from Carol Morello with The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. I was wondering on the timing of this. Does it have anything to do with the fact the World Cup is being held in Moscow or in Russia right now, and so you’re using that as an occasion to sort of focus attention on this?

And also, for the record, since you mentioned that the – one of the things that Russians seem to be doing is attempting to strip dissidents of parental rights over children, do you see – do you find it difficult to make the argument at a time when the United States is separating children from their parents at the Mexican border? Thank you.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Again, some others have made – Mr. Sentsov himself has made a reference to the World Cup. We are not making that association. Look, we’re bringing this today because, one, we’re concerned about Mr. Sentsov and the health of the other Ukrainian hunger strikers and this growing list of people imprisoned by Russia and their status. And again, Russians are speaking out, and we’re joining our voice with them as they raise these cases.

And again, as relates to removal of parental rights, again, this is really an atrocious Soviet practice that they’ve threatened to bring against people for their religious beliefs. I can refer you back to Homeland Security to talk about our border policy, but it’s – when we’re talking about Russia here we’re seeing a return to Soviet practices across the board in trying to suppress dissent. And that’s what we are trying to draw attention here to today.



I would have taken a knee and let the clock run out instead of answering that.

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