The Slovenia Times

Russian diplomat declared persona non grata in Slovenia

The Russian Embassy in Ljubljana. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has declared a Russian diplomat persona non grata under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations over activities incompatible with his status as a diplomat. According to the news portal Siol, the diplomat in question is Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Lemeshev, deputy defence attaché at the Russian embassy.

The Foreign Ministry notified the Russian Embassy in Ljubljana of the decision on 21 March. It said the diplomat must leave Slovenia by 28 March 2024.

Vojko Volk, a state secretary at the prime minister's office, said Slovenia opted for the step due to a significant increase in Russian propaganda activities against Slovenian national interests.

"It involved activities in all areas of life, influencing on social networks," Volk, who is in charge of international affairs and national and international security, told Slovenian reporters in Brussels.

He said the activities included criticism of Slovenia's foreign policy and justifying Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

According to unofficial information, a few hundred Russians who reside in Slovenia based on student visas were involved in the activities.

"The measure was not taken overnight, it had been carefully considered and it was necessary," Volk said.

Asked about Russia's imminent response announced by the Russian Foreign Ministry as reported by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Volk said he had not yet been informed about it, but was convinced there will be a response.

Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations allows the receiving state to notify the sending state at any time that one of the latter's diplomats is a persona non grata or that any member of its staff is unacceptable, without having to provide an explanation.

According to the news portal, this is the first public expulsion of a diplomat in Slovenia.

A number of EU countries have declared Russian diplomats persona non grata since Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022 or demanded that Russia decrease the number of diplomats in their missions.

In early April 2022, Slovenia demanded that Russia decrease the number staff at the Ljubljana embassy to the same number as Slovenia has stationed in Moscow. This lowered the number of staff by 33 to eight.

Russia responded with a demand that Slovenia reduce the number of its staff at the Moscow embassy.


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