Russian crowd defends ownership of Kuriles before Abe visit

MOSCOW: A crowd gathered in Moscow on Sunday (Jan 20) to defend Russia’s ownership of a chain of islands captured by Soviet troops from Japan during the final days of World War II. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, is pushing for a treaty for the islands, known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. Russia said on Monday that its sovereignty over them was not up for discussion.

“Any mention of handing over the Kuriles … is nothing other than an act of treason,” Igor Skurlatov, a speaker at the rally, said. “Today we give away the Kuriles, tomorrow we will give away Crimea.”

Organisers said around 2,000 people attended. The city’s security department put the number at 500, Interfax news agency said.