Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Russian MFA sends démarche of protest to Greece

Russian MFA sends démarche of protest to Greece

Greece's fragile left-right coalition under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras recently lost two lawmakers who quit in protest against the Macedonia accord, bringing his parliamentary majority to 152 out of a total of 300 seats.

July 13, Greece has made a decision to expel two Russian diplomats and to ban the entry of a further two due to their interference in the internal Affairs of the country.

"Interference with the democratic processes of other countries is unacceptable and we support Greece in defending its sovereignty", said State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert. "But we do demand that all countries respect our worldwide legitimacy and national sovereignty". He asked not to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

It was not clear if the Russian diplomats have departed or are preparing to leave.

Reacting to the Greek announcement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry told AFP: "Tit-for-tat measures will be taken, as is always the case in such situations".

The United States welcomed the Greek action.

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Greece had been opposed to Macedonia's joining both the alliance and the European Union before the country changed its name for fear it might raise territorial claims on the historical Greek region of the same name. "Russian Federation must end its destabilising behaviour", she added.

"We are now filing an appeal against this ruling", the lawyer said.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that diplomatic expulsions typically bring a tit-for-tat response, but underlined the importance of Russia-Greece ties. He remains jailed in Greece pending final decisions on his extradition.

Igor Pshenichnikov, an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a government-funded think-tank, alleged the Greek authorities acted "under the pressure of their advisers from Brussels and Washington". Vinnik and his lawyers believe he should be tried in Russian Federation.

The incident was a rare hiccup in traditionally close relations between the two countries which, despite Greece's longstanding membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have religious and cultural links spanning centuries.

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