By Hassina Leelarathna
Udayanga Weeratunge, the beleaguered former Sri Lankan Ambassador, to Russia has broken his long silence, offering proof that the allegations made against him regarding arms sales to the Ukranian rebels and the murder of a young Sri Lankan man have been trumped up by the Sri Lankan Government.
Weeratunge who has been designated “an international fugitive” by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera reveals in a press release that he’s living in the Ukranian capital Kiev and that he wouldn’t be able to do so had he been involved in arms deals with the rebels.
As reported exclusively by this writer (Update May 31), the BBC had carried a report in March quoting the Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebenis as saying the Ukrainian government rejected “widespread media reports” accusing Weeratunge of supplying arms to the Ukrainian rebels. In that article, this writer provided a detailed analysis of the Sunday Times’ “exclusive” reporting on the allegations against Weeratunge and concluded that the Sri Lankan media had failed in its due diligence by surrendering the narrative to “political rhetoric and sleight of hand.”
Udayanga responsible for Noel's death? - Sri Lanka Mirror
Another serious allegation made against Weeratunge is that he was somehow involved in the death of Noel Ranaweera, an employee at the Sri Lankan embassy in Ukraine who was killed June 11, 2014 in a road accident in Southern Russia and buried in Sri Lanka. Local media in Colombo headlined “Is Udayanga responsible for Noel’s death?” and suggested that Weeratunge did away with Noel because the young man was aware of the ambassador’s arms deals.
Weeratunge calls the murder allegation “another fabrication” and says Russian authorities have CCTV camera recordings of the accident and have filed charges against the driver of the vehicle that killed Noel.
“ The allegation that I was responsible for the death of Noel Ranaweera an employee of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Russia is another fabrication. The latter died as a result of being run over by a lorry driven by a Russian citizen named S.V. Samsonov in the premises of the Don Plaza hotel in the city of Rostov on Don on 11 June 2014. The incident has been recorded on CCTV cameras and there is a criminal investigation and court proceedings against the driver of the vehicle. The head of the Second Asia Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs S.Kabulov has confirmed these details in a letter to S. Pathirana the Acting Sri Lankan Ambassador in Russia on 4 June 2015 and added that there is no investigation in Russia against Udayanga Weeratunga in relation to this matter.” Sinhala translation of Russian letter
Weeratunge says he has no intention of returning to Sri Lanka because he fears harassment by the government. He has just unveiled his website: www.udayanga.net