Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Foreign minister warns US embassy not to meddle in Russian regional elections

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned Washington on Friday against trying to meddle in next month’s Russian regional elections. “I do not know what plans the U.S. embassy has, ​​but there were many episodes when American diplomats were seen in illegal activities,” Lavrov said, the state-owned TASS news agency reported. “The relevant services should take appropriate measures.” Lavrov, who was on a visit to Russia’s Vladimir region, said the American embassy employs many Russian citizens. According to the Vienna Convention, he noted, the embassy staff in Russia can only employ technical workers, like drivers, typists, stenographers, and cannot engage in “diplomatic activities, including political aspects.” “But it was not uncommon for U.S. embassy staff to travel to different regions on the spot, conduct public inquiries: how they relate to the governor, in general to the federal center,” he said. “In such situations, we politely ask our American colleagues to terminate these people’s contracts.” He also cast his warnings against a backdrop of charges by U.S. intelligence services that Russia used cyber activity and spread of disinformation to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. “I hope that after all the unfounded accusations against us — because not a single fact was presented within 10 months — all the intensity over this topic by the American establishment will force them to think again,” Lavrov said. “But if this happens, we have our laws, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which prescribes very specifically what diplomats can do and what not,” he said. Lavrov said. “We will follow it and our laws.”



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