Slovakia has expelled three Russian diplomats for spying and murder. The expulsion of the Russian diplomats is linked to the murder of a Georgian in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park. The foreign ministry said the Slovak consulate in St. Petersburg had issued a visa leading to “serious crime.”
“I can confirm that a decision has been taken to expel three employees of the embassy of the Russian Federation in Slovakia,” Juraj Tomaga, head of the foreign ministry’s press department, told AFP news agency. Local media reported that the diplomats had also been involved with espionage.
“According to information from the Slovak intelligence services, their [the diplomats’] activities were in conflict with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” said Tomaga. He added that a visa issued by the Slovak consulate in Saint Petersburg had been “misused and serious crime was committed in the territory of another NATO and EU member state”.
Deutsche Welle reports that the Slovak consulate in Saint Petersburg last year issued visas that allowed into the European Union a Russian citizen who was later suspected of killing Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian national, in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park.
The Russian Embassy in Bratislava slammed on Tuesday the Slovak Foreign Ministry’s justification of three Russian diplomats expulsion as unprofessional and undignified, adding that Moscow was still seeking relations based on mutual respect, despite Slovakia’s unfriendly moves.
Moscow sees Slovakia’s decision to expel the diplomats and declare them personae non grata as a “nonconstructive and regretful step by local authorities”, which contravenes “the spirit of fruitful cooperation.”
“Regardless of these unfriendly steps, the Russian side confirms again its commitment to the longstanding tradition of pragmatic, mutual respect-based relations between our countries and peoples”, the embassy added.
The United States welcomed the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Slovakia, US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. “The United States applauds the recent actions taken by Slovakia to protect against threats that foreign malign actors pose to its sovereignty,” Ortagus said on Twitter.