Russia, Czech Republic conduct tit-for-tat expulsions

Russia has expelled two Czech diplomats, following an earlier move by Prague to dismiss two Russian diplomats over suspicion of spying.

Russia's Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday that Moscow had expelled two Czech diplomats in a tit-for-tat spying row with Prague.

"This unfriendly act by the Czech side, which declared two of our diplomats persona non grata, could not be left without a response," Interfax quoted an unnamed Russian official as saying. "Two Czech embassy workers in Moscow were told to leave Russia."

Early on Tuesday, the Czech website idnes.cz reported that two Russian diplomats had been ordered to leave the country.

The idnes.cz report said the Russian deputy defense attaché had been ordered out of the country, while another diplomat – currently on holiday – had been told not to return.

Two Czech diplomats were subsequently told to leave Russia, according to Interfax.

The Czech foreign ministry declined to confirm the expulsions. However, the RIA Novosti news agency in Moscow reported that the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, called them a "provocation".

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer has also refused to comment on the matter.

Russia and the Czech Republic have been at loggerheads over Czech accusations of Russian spying – mentioned  in reports by the Czech BIS secret service – connected to plans by the United States to station parts of a missile defense system in the Czech Republic.
 
 
rb/dpa/Reuters
 
 
 

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