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Russia expels two US diplomats for maintaining contact with alleged “informant”

National American and rainbow flags at the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia on June 30. (Photo: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

Two US diplomats have been ordered to leave Russia within seven days for maintaining contact with local employee Robert Shono, whom Russia accuses of being an “informer,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Lynn Tracy, the US ambassador to Russia, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow this Thursday and received a stern administration by “giving an official note of non-compliance with the diplomatic status of the actions of the First Secretary. Jeffrey Silin of the US Embassy and the Second Secretary of the Embassy David Bernstein,” the ministry said.

“These persons carried out illegal activities, maintained contact with Russian citizen R. Shonov, accused of ‘secret cooperation’ with a foreign state, entrusted economic compensation work aimed at harming the national security of the Russian Federation,” the ministry said.

Tracey was told that Chillin and Bernstein had been declared “personas non grata” and must leave Russia within seven days, according to the ministry.

“Illegal activities of the US diplomatic mission, including interference in the host country’s internal affairs, are unacceptable and will be firmly suppressed. The Russian side hopes that Washington will refrain from taking appropriate decisions and actions. The ministry added.”

CNN contacted the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the U.S. State Department for comment on the expulsion of the two diplomats.

At the end of August, the Russian Security Service (FSB) released a video in which Shonov, a former employee of the US Embassy, ​​allegedly admitted that US diplomats had ordered searches of Russians “in a hostile spirit”. According to the media, Russian state communication networks. In the video, Shonov mentions two American diplomats by name. It is not known whether he is speaking under compulsion.

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State Department spokesman Matt Miller said the State Department also saw video and images from an apparent Federal Security Service (FSB) subpoena “showing Shono’s alleged confession” to two diplomats working at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in connection with the case. “The charges against Shonov are completely baseless,” he reiterated.

“As we previously stated, Mr. Shonov was employed by a company contracted to provide services to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in strict compliance with Russian laws and regulations,” Miller said in a statement at the time. “The fact that Russia is targeting Mr. Schonow under the ‘Secret Cooperation’ Act only highlights the repressive measures the Russian government is taking against its own citizens.”

Shonov, a Russian citizen, was arrested in Vladivostok in March.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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