Moscow said Friday it had been expelling diplomats from Poland, Germany, and Sweden for participating in unsanctioned demonstrations last month in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The move comes hours after the ECU Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell met the secretary of state Sergei Lavrov in Moscow and described the bloc’s ties with Russia as at a low point over Navalny’s jailing.
Borrell strongly condemned the action, a spokesman said, while Sweden branded it completely unfounded. The Russian foreign ministry said during a statement that an unspecified number of diplomats from the three EU countries took part in illegal demonstrations on January 23 and had been declared persona non grata.
They were ordered to go away from Russia within the near future, the ministry said, adding that Moscow expects diplomats from the countries to strictly follow the norms of international law within the future. Russian police have arrested quite 10,000 people at mass demonstrations across the country where protesters denounced Kremlin rule and demanded the authorities release Navalny.
The 44-year-old opposition campaigner was arrested on his arrival in Moscow last month from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack that he blames on Russian leader Putin.