Estonia’s consul in St. Petersburg, Mart Lätte, has been declared ‘persona non grata’ by Russia and will have to leave the country within 48 hours, Russian diplomacy announced today.
This announcement comes a day after the Estonian diplomat was detained by the Russian federal security services (known as the FSB) on charges of having obtained “confidential documents”, in a context of increasing cases and suspicions of espionage between Moscow and the West.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry needed to have expressed its strong protest to the Estonian business official in Russia, Ulla Uibo, for the activities aimed at Mart Lätte which, according to Moscow, are “incompatible with the status of diplomatic official “.
On Tuesday, the FSB reported that it had detained the Estonian diplomat “in flagrante delicto” when he was receiving confidential documents from a Russian citizen.
“Such a gesture is incompatible with the status of diplomatic official and is clearly hostile towards Russia. Measures will be taken in relation to the foreign diplomat, in accordance with the norms of international law”, the FSB said on Tuesday.
Russian diplomacy said today that there is “irrefutable” evidence of the Estonian diplomat’s irregular activities, calling Tallinn’s (European Union Member State) stance, which denies the accusations against Mart Lätte and considered the arrest of the Estonian “cynical”, representative as “illegal and provocative”.
Suspicions and cases of espionage between Moscow and the West have multiplied in recent years as tensions have continued to rise since the crisis in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula from Crimea in 2014.
In April, the consul of Ukraine in St. Petersburg, Alexandre Sossoniuk, was arrested by the FSB for trying to obtain secret information and was urged to leave Russian territory.
In turn, Russia was accused of multiple cases of espionage in several European countries, which led to the mutual expulsion of diplomats.
Tensions are particularly strong in Europe between Russia and the Czech Republic, which accuses Moscow of being the source of the fatal explosions that destroyed an ammunition magazine on its territory in 2014.
Source: with Agencies