Poland, Germany, Sweden expel Russian diplomats


In a tit-for-tat move, the governments of Poland, Germany and Sweden have expelled Russian diplomats in direct response to Moscow’s expulsion of officials from the three European nations over their participation in rallies against the detention of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

On February 5, the Russian Foreign Ministry had declared the Swedish, Polish and German diplomats personae non gratae due of their participation in the January 23 “unauthorized rallies” in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Representatives of these countries’ embassies were summoned to the Russian Ministry and handed notes of protest.

In a statement on Monday, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that it would take what it called appropriate steps if the “groundless expulsion” of its diplomat was not reconsidered, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Ministry said the decision was taken “in coordination with Germany and Sweden to consider the Russian diplomat as a persona non grata”.

The expelled diplomat worked at the Russian Consulate in Poznan, Poland’s fifth largest city.

Also on Monday, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany said that Russia’s decision to expel the diplomats “was not justified in any way”.

It added that the German diplomat was merely carrying out his task of reporting developments on the spot in a legal fashion.

Taking to Twitter on Monday night, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said: “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 preforming his duties.”

Navalny, a harsh critic of the Russian government, was detained on January 17 upon his landing at a Moscow airport from Germany, where he had received medical treatment for alleged poisoning over the past few months.

His detention sparked ongoing mass protests in major Russian cities, including capital Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yakutsk, Omsk and Yekaterinburg.