January 20, 2019 / 11:50 AM / 7 months ago

Russian crowd defends ownership of Kuriles before Abe visit

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe receives a military Guard of Honour at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Britain January 10, 2019. Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS

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

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.”

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

Writing by Polina Ivanova; editing by John Stonestreet

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