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Britain, Russia expelled diplomats in spy row

RIA Novosti

20:58 21/12/2010

MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Britain and Russia each expelled a diplomat from their embassies in mid-December, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in written statement on Tuesday.

"On 10 December we requested that the Russian Embassy in London withdraw a member of their staff from the UK," the statement to the House of Commons reads. "This was in response to clear evidence of activities by the Russian intelligence services against UK interests."

Hague said that Russia responded on December 16 by requesting the removal of a member of the British Embassy staff in Moscow.

"We remain open to a more productive relationship with Russia, as with any other country, on the basis of respect for our laws," Hague said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has made no comment on the issue.

The latest tit-for-tat expulsions are the first since former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband ordered three Russian diplomats out of Britain after the Kremlin refused to extradite ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi, who Britain accused of the murder of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in May 2007. Moscow expelled four British diplomats in response.

Sky News said the case was not linked to the arrest this month of Katia Zatuliveter, 25, a Russian working as an aide for Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock.

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