- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2018

An Anglo-American school that has operated in St. Petersburg since the depths of the Cold War is closing its doors, the latest apparent victim of the deep chill in more recent relations between Russia and the West.

The board of directors of the Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg, founded in 1975 to serve the international community in Russia’s second largest city, said in a statement Friday it was closing the school down after learning last week that the Russian government was refusing to renew its lease.

It’s the latest fallout from a diplomatic clash earlier this year when Britain, the U.S., and a string of Western governments expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and closed Russian consulates to protest the Kremlin’s suspected role in the poisoning of ex-Soviet spy and defector Sergei Skripal on the streets of Salisbury, Endland.

In response, Moscow closed the British and American consulates in St. Petersburg as well as the British Council, the U.K.’s cultural outreach arm.

The AASSP board said Friday it had been in negotiations with the Brookes Education Group, which runs international baccalaureate schools in Russia, India, South Korea and other countries, to take over as the school’s new parent organization.

“This process was to be concluded by the end of the 2018-2019 school year, a timeline that was agreed to by the Russian government,” the school’s statement said.

But the school was informed by authorities just last week that it would not be able to renew its lease, forcing an immediate shutdown.

City officials in St. Petersburg told the state-run TASS news agency Thursday the school “has no legal grounds to function” given the closure of the U.S. consulate.

The school had 140 students drawn from the local business and diplomatic community drawn from some 30 countries.

“It is with great disappointment that we have to say good-bye to the AAS school community in St. Petersburg, whom AAS has had the honor of serving for 43 years,” the board said.

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