Russia Expels Albanian Diplomat In Tit-For-Tat Move

Russia says it is expelling an Albanian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move after Tirana told a Russian diplomat to leave for allegedly violating lockdown rules instituted for the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement on February 8 that the first secretary of the Albanian Embassy in Moscow had been declared “persona non grata” and ordered to leave the country within 72 hours.

The move comes more than two weeks after the Albanian government announced it was expelling the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Tirana, citing “repeated” violations of pandemic restrictions by the diplomat since April 2020.

The Albanian Foreign Ministry said senior representatives of the Foreign Ministry first addressed the matter with the Russia ambassador in Tirana, but the diplomat continued to break lockdown rules.

In its statement on February 8, Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the Albanian decision a “provocation” and said that its diplomat was expelled “under a completely contrived pretext.”

It accused the Albanian authorities of “playing along with anti-Russian forces” to gain “political points” ahead of parliamentary election in April.

In 2018, Albania expelled two Russian diplomats, saying their activities were not compliant with their diplomatic status.

Tirana resumed diplomatic relations with Moscow in 1991, 30 years after the country’s then-communist regime severed previously close ties with Russia.

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