Moscow said Friday it had expelled diplomats from Poland, Germany and Sweden for participating in unsanctioned demonstrations in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny last month.
The move comes hours after European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell met Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow and called the bloc’s relations with Russia a “low” in terms of Navalny’s prison.
Borrell “strongly condemned” the action, a spokesman said, while Sweden described it as “completely unfounded”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated in a statement that an unspecified number of diplomats from the three EU countries took part in “illegal demonstrations” on January 23 and had been declared “persona non grata”.
“They have been instructed to leave Russia in the near future,” the ministry said, adding that Moscow expects diplomats from those countries to “adhere strictly to the norms of international law” in the future.
Russian police arrested more than 10,000 people at mass demonstrations across the country where demonstrators denounced Kremlin rule and demanded the authorities to release Navalny.
The 44-year-old opposition fighter was arrested from Germany on his arrival in Moscow last month, where he was recovering from a poisoning attack on Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
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