Russia expels Albanian diplomat in tit-for-tat move

By: AFP      Published: 09:20 PM, 8 Feb, 2021
Russia expels Albanian diplomat in tit-for-tat move

Russia announced Monday that it is expelling an Albanian diplomat after one of its own embassy workers was ordered to leave the Balkan state for alleged repeat violations of coronavirus rules.

The foreign ministry said in a statement that it had declared Jonida Drogu, the first secretary of the Albanian embassy in Moscow, persona non grata. She was given 72 hours to leave the country.

The decision was made in response to Albania expelling the first secretary of the Russian embassy in Tirana "under a completely contrived pretext," the statement said.

Albania in late January ordered Alexei Krivosheev to leave the country citing unspecified violations of coronavirus measures but said it wanted "friendly relations" with Moscow.

Moscow said Albania's decision was a "provocation with the aim of gaining political points" and accused Tirana of "playing along with anti-Russian forces in the West". 

It was the first reported expulsion since 2018, when Albania removed two Russian diplomats citing unspecified "inappropriate activities" as the reason.

Russia has expelled a number of diplomats -- mostly in response to the removal of its own officials -- as its relations with the West have soured following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The reason given by European countries for the removal of Russian diplomats recently is espionage.

Last week Moscow announced the expulsion of three diplomats from EU members Germany, Sweden and Poland for allegedly taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration.