Russia responds, expels Latvian diplomat

In response to the April 23 expulsion of a Russian diplomat in Rīga whom Latvia had accused of spying, Russia has now expelled a diplomat from the Latvian embassy in Moscow.

First Secretary Juris Poikāns must leave Russia in two days, the news agency LETA reported April 29. Russia accuses him of actions unbecoming a diplomat, according to the news agency ITAR-TASS.

Latvia expelled Russia’s Second Secretary Piotr Urzhumov, who was accused of trying to gain information about the NATO defense alliance’s presence in Latvia. It was apparently the first time Latvia has expelled a diplomat since 1991 and followed similar recent actions by Estonia and Lithuania. Russia also answered those expulsions by asking Estonian and Lithuanian diplomats to leave Moscow.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an April 23 statement,  had warned it might reciprocate against Latvia.

“The provocative action of official Rīga, which fits into the anti-Russian policy of the current Latvian leadership, did not come as a surprise,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in the statement posted on its Web site.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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