Romania orders tit-for-tat expulsion of Russian diplomat

17th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Romania ordered the tit-for-tat expulsion of a Russian diplomat on Tuesday, a day after a Romanian diplomat was told by Moscow to leave Russia for spying.

The foreign ministry said in a statement it "has informed Russian authorities of its decision to declare persona non grata a diplomat in the Russian embassy in Bucharest of the same diplomatic rank."

The foreign ministry did not provide any more details on the identity of the expelled diplomat.

Russia's FSB security agency said on Monday it had detained a Romanian diplomat for spying, and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

The FSB named him as Gabriel Grecu, who was accredited as the first secretary at the Romanian embassy in Moscow, and said he had been caught trying to receive secret military information and had "spying equipment" on him.

The Romanian foreign ministry accused Russian authorities of a "serious violation" of diplomatic protocol by detaining their diplomat.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the serious violation by the Russian authorities of the Vienna conventions on diplomatic protocol of 1961 by the detention during the day of August 16 of a Romanian diplomat accredited to Moscow and the completely inadequate treatment to which they subjected him," it said in a statement.

The Romanian foreign ministry added Grecu would leave Russia within the 48-hour deadline set by Russian authorities.

Relations between Romania and Russia have grown more tense since Bucharest's decision to host three batteries of interceptor missiles as part of a planned US defence shield in Europe.

In February, Russia said it has "serious questions regarding the true purpose of the US missile system," and denounced the lack of transparency by Bucharest and Washington on the issue.

Romanian officials, like the Americans, have numerous times reassured Moscow the system is purely defensive.

The Romanian diplomat's expulsion also comes shortly after the biggest spy swap between Russia and the United States since the Cold War in July, after Washington busted a group of 10 Kremlin spies and deported them in return for four Russians accused of spying for the West.


© 2010 AFP

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