BERLIN

Germany on Monday declared a Russian diplomat persona non grata in retaliation for a similar measure taken by Russia last week, amid growing tensions between the two countries.

The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it has ordered today the expulsion a staff member of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“With this step, the Federal Government is responding to a decision by the Russian Federation of Friday, 5 February 2021,” the statement said.

Russia last week expelled several EU diplomats, including a staff member of the Germany Embassy in Moscow, for taking part in rallies in support of Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last Friday that Russia’s decision was “without any justification”, and has further damaged the country’s relations with Europe.

He claimed that the German diplomat was merely doing his job and following the developments on the ground with legal means under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Russia saw a number of rallies in recent weeks in support of Navalny, which were not authorized by the authorities.

The Russian opposition politician was arrested in Moscow upon his return on Jan. 17 from Germany, where he had received treatment after an alleged poisoning in Russia.

Russian authorities said he had violated probation from a suspended sentence on a 2014 money laundering offense, a case Navalny says is “politically motivated.”

A Moscow court on Tuesday sentenced Navalny to two years and eight months in prison for violating his parole.

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