Rus­sia shows diplo­mat door

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Moscow

– Rus­sia said yes­ter­day it was ex­pelling a Bul­gar­ian diplo­mat in a tit-for-tat move af­ter Sofia asked a Rus­sian diplo­mat to leave the coun­try over sus­pi­cions of es­pi­onage.

The Rus­sian for­eign min­istry said the Bul­gar­ian am­bas­sador in Moscow, Atanas Krastin, had been handed a note in­form­ing him that an em­ployee had been de­clared per­sona non grata.

“The step is a re­tal­ia­tory mea­sure in re­sponse to a de­ci­sion by the Bul­gar­ian au­thor­i­ties to ex­pel a Rus­sian diplo­mat from the coun­try in Oc­to­ber,” the for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment. No de­tails were pro­vided. In Oc­to­ber, Sofia ex­pelled a Rus­sian diplo­mat af­ter he ig­nored a re­quest to leave fol­low­ing a probe which con­firmed he had been spy­ing in the Euro­pean Union mem­ber coun­try.

The Rus­sian am­bas­sador was told at the time that the diplo­mat in ques­tion, a first sec­re­tary at the em­bassy in Sofia, had 24 hours to leave the coun­try.

Bul­garia is a rare ally of Rus­sia in Europe.

In Septem­ber Bul­gar­ian pros­e­cu­tors charged pro-Rus­sian ac­tivist Niko­lay Mali­nov with es­pi­onage and banned his al­leged Rus­sian han­dler from en­ter­ing Bul­garia. Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has given him a state award. – AFP

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