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1ST LEAD Georgia expels Russian diplomat in show of solidarity with Britain By Peter Spinella, dpa

Europe
29.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Moscow (dpa) - The former Soviet republic of Georgia has expelled a Russian diplomat as an expression of solidarity with Britain, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Georgia, which does not maintain regular diplomatic relations with Russia, has declared a Russian diplomat at the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi a persona non grata, according to a statement on the ministry‘s website.

The diplomat, whose identity was not disclosed in the statement, must leave Georgia within a week.

British authorities have accused the Russian state of committing a chemical weapon attack on a former Russian spy turned double agent in England.

The ex-spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia remain in hospital in critical but stable condition after being found unconscious in the city of Salisbury in early March.

Georgia severed diplomatic relations with neighbouring Russia in 2008 following a brief war between the countries over two breakaway Georgian regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia has recognized both regions as independent states.

Also on Thursday, Russian federal investigators were preparing to petition British authorities to join the investigation into the alleged chemical weapon attack.

While the Russian Foreign Ministry has claimed Britain may be responsible, Britain has accused the Russian state of being behind the attack with what it has described as a Russian-developed nerve agent identified as Novichok.

Russia‘s Investigative Committee said in a statement that it had prepared a request for involvement in the British investigation.

It described the means of the attack as presenting a danger to the general public, according to a statement posted on its website.

Britain and Russia have each expelled 23 diplomats in a tit-for-tat move. The US and more than 20 of Britain‘s Western allies followed suit, collectively announcing the expulsion of more than 100 Russian diplomats.

Russia has adamantly denied any state involvement in the attack and is still deciding how to react to the wave of expulsions.

 

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