Three European countries on Monday declared Russian diplomats persona non grata in retaliation for similar measures taken by Russia last week.
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.
Also on Monday, Sweden asked a Russian diplomat to leave the country.
“We have informed the Russian Ambassador that a person from the Russian embassy is asked to leave Sweden. This is a clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only performing his duties,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Twitter.
Poland’s Foreign Ministry also took to Twitter to announce its decision declaring a Russian diplomat persona non grata.
“In response to the groundless expulsion of the diplomat by Russia, the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] has decided today in accordance with the principle of reciprocity and in coordination with Germany and Sweden to consider the Russian diplomat working at the Russian Consulate General in Poznan as a persona non grata,” the Polish ministry said in a tweet.
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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