Russia has ordered the expulsion of various European diplomats, after claiming the officials participated in protests favoring Alexei Navalny, according to the Associated Press.
Russia alleges that a German diplomat stationed in Moscow, and Swedish and Polish diplomats working in St. Petersburg took part in the protests last month, which resulted in the arrests of thousands of Russian citizens.
Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Mats Samuelsson told the Associated Press that the expulsion is “entirely unjustified” and Sweden, “rejects Russian claims that the diplomat took part in a demonstration in Russia.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly attacked the move by Russia, saying:
“We consider this expulsion unjustified and think it is another facet of the things that can be seen in Russia at the moment that are pretty far from the rule of law.”
Russia has formally declared the diplomats to be “persona non grata” and is requiring them to leave the country immediately, according to a ministry statement obtained by the Associated Press. (RELATED: Riot Police Block Off Areas In Moscow, Arrest Demonstrators Immediately Following Navalny’s Sentencing)
— euronews (@euronews) February 3, 2021
The protests in which the diplomats allegedly participated swept the country last month after Navalny, a well-known Putin critic, returned to the country and was promptly arrested.
Navalny recently recovered from an assassination attempt commonly assumed to have been ordered by Putin, which forced doctors to place him in a medically-induced coma. Many of Navalny’s associates remain under house arrest.