The Slovenia Times

Russia retaliates for expulsion of its diplomat

Moscow, Russia. Photo: Xinhua/STA

Russia has declared a Slovenian diplomat serving at the Slovenian embassy in Moscow persona non grata in retaliation for Slovenia expelling a Russian diplomat in March.

The Russian Foreign Ministry notified Slovenian Ambassador in Moscow Darja Bavdaž Kuret of the move as it summoned her for a meeting on 12 April.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said the diplomat was given a week to leave Russia. The ministry is planning to replace the diplomat as soon as possible so the move would not reduce the number of staff at the Slovenian embassy in Moscow.

According to ministry sources, the Slovenian embassy has six personnel; the ambassador and three other diplomats plus two support staff.

The move comes after the Slovenian Foreign Ministry notified the Russian embassy in Ljubljana on 21 March that it had declared a Russian diplomat persona non grata for carrying out activities that are not compatible with their status as diplomat.

The ministry did not name the diplomat, but media reports identified him as Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Lemeshev, deputy defence attaché at the Russian embassy. He was given a week to leave the country, which he did on 27 March.

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

According to unofficial but well-placed sources the diplomat had been working with a network of associates to sow discord in Slovenian society.

One of their main goals was allegedly to interfere in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Slovenia's accession to NATO in late March by inciting negative popular sentiment against the alliance.

High on their agenda was also blaming the West for alleged double standards over the conflict between Ukraine and Russia on the one hand and that between Israel and Hamas on the other.

Soon after the Russian diplomat's expulsion, several Russian citizens who had allegedly been abusing study exchange system to obtain the papers to reside in Slovenia left the country as well.


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