There are concerns that an ambassador invited to speak in Oxford this evening will be "given a platform to speak on behalf of Vladimir Putin's regime". 

The Russian ambassador to the UK, Andrey Kelin, is due to speak to the Oxford Russian Club this evening as part of a question and answer session.

But Oxford MP Anneliese Dodds believes the invitation should be withdrawn.

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She said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has caused untold suffering and hardship.

“This event should not go ahead.”

Ms Dodds suggested the society should instead invite “a dissident to discuss the reality of life in Putin’s Russia or a Ukrainian victim to reflect on the impact of the invasion”.

The ambassador has previously accused British “specialists” of being involved in an attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet and has criticised Britain for being “too deep” in the conflict.

When interviewed by the BBC last November, Mr Kelin refused to accept Russian forces were guilty of war crimes and instead argued that Ukrainians were guilty of such crimes.


Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

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When shown CCTV footage of Moscow’s soldiers committing alleged war crimes, Mr Kelin has previously argued that such allegations were a “fabrication”.

Mr Kelin has also described the Bucha massacre, where hundreds of people were found dead, as "fake and "staged by Ukrainian special forces".

When taking part in an interview with Al Jazeera, Mr Kelin denied Russia bombed a theatre in Mariupol which civilians were using as a shelter while the city was under siege.

The club was first founded in 1909 and its website states that one of the aims is to “promote Russian current affairs at the University of Oxford”.

The University of Oxford has distanced itself from the club and has highlighted that it is not one of their “registered student societies”.

Oxford Mail: The Russian Ambassador speaking to presenter Andrew MarrThe Russian Ambassador speaking to presenter Andrew Marr (Image: PA Picture desk)

An Oxford University spokesman said its position on the Ukrainian War was “clear”.

He said: “The invitation to Mr Andrey Kelin has been given by the Oxford Russian Club and not by Oxford University or any of its registered student societies.

“The university’s position on the Ukrainian war is clear.

"Last April the university’s congregation passed a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Alongside hosting Ukrainian families in our Oxford homes, we have also welcomed Ukrainian graduate students on scholarships over the last year and will do so again this year.”

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The event takes place at 5.30pm today and the location will only be disclosed to confirmed attendees.

Tickets cost £15 for non-members but members of the society can attend the event for free.

It is not yet clear whether protesters will be outside the venue.

The Oxford Russian Club and Thames Valley Police have been approached for comment.