Russia has deported three diplomats who allegedly participated in demonstrations against the arrest of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. The three have been declared unwanted, which means they have to leave the country as soon as possible.
According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is a Swedish diplomat from the consulate in Saint Petersburg, a Polish consulate there and an employee of the German embassy in Moscow. Germany, Sweden and Poland call the step unjustified and consider countermeasures.
According to the Russians, the three participated in demonstrations on 23 January, while those demonstrations were not authorised. Such actions are incompatible with diplomatic status, Moscow considers.
Russia has held the ambassadors of the three EU countries to account. Moscow has already accused the European Union of interfering in internal affairs.
Germany, Poland and Sweden reacted rejectively to the Russian decision. According to Chancellor Merkel, it is another example of the situation in Russia, which is ‘rather far from the rule of law’. Her Foreign Minister Maas threatened with countermeasures.
Both Sweden and Germany point out that the diplomats concerned had observed the demonstration, because this is part of their work as a diplomat. The countries invoke the Vienna Agreement of 1964, which provides for this.