News ID: 90214
Publish Date : 15 May 2021 - 21:12
MOSCOW (Dispatches) – Russia has officially deemed the United States and the Czech Republic "unfriendly” states, saying that U.S. diplomatic missions could no longer employ local staff while Czech missions could employ a maximum of 19.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law last month to limit the number of local staff working at foreign diplomatic missions and other agencies, and ordered the government to draw up a list of "unfriendly” states that will be subject to the restrictions.
Relations between Russia and the Czechs were badly hit last month when the Czechs accused Russian military intelligence of being behind a 2014 blast at an ammunition depot, and expelled dozens of Russian diplomats.
Russia rejected the allegations and retaliated by expelling Czech diplomats, and also ordered the Czechs to let go the majority of their local employees in Moscow, many of whom have staffed a Czech hospitality and business center in the city.
Moscow first announced the ban on the U.S. hiring local staff last month as part of a retaliatory move against Washington after the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which Moscow has categorically denied.
Biden said in an interview that he believed Putin was a "killer” and that the Russian president would have to "pay a price” for meddling in the last year’s election race.
On Friday, Putin also said that neighboring Ukraine was becoming ‘anti-Russia’ and that Moscow would be ready to react to what he said were threats to its own security.
Putin was speaking a day after a Ukrainian court placed Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent pro-Russian politician who says Putin is godfather to his daughter, under house arrest.
Medvedchuk, who has promoted closer ties with Moscow and acted as an intermediary between Moscow and Kyiv in the past, is being investigated over treason allegations he calls politically-motivated.
Putin, in remarks to a meeting of Russia’s security council, called what was happening in Ukraine a ‘cleansing’ of the political space and accused the Ukrainian authorities of targeting people who favored better ties with Russia and supported a peaceful settlement in eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
* Comment: