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Russia expels two Spanish diplomats in 'spy' tit-for-tat

RIA Novosti

10:52 28/12/2010

MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has expelled two Spanish diplomats in response to the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Madrid seven weeks ago, the Spanish daily El Pais said on Tuesday.

The newspaper said the political advisor at the Spanish embassy in Moscow, Ignacio Cartagena, and first secretary of the embassy, Borja Cortes-Breton, received notice from the Russian Foreign Ministry to leave Russia last week.

The move follows the expulsion of two secretaries at the Russian embassy in Madrid in late November. The Spanish authorities have yet to name the official reason for the move.

Meanwhile, the newspaper said citing a diplomatic source that the Russian diplomats were expelled for their involvement in "activity incompatible with their professional status."

This allegation is usually a cover for an accusation of espionage, the source said.

The latest diplomatic row comes as the two countries are planning to hold the Year of Russia in Spain and the Year of Spain in Russia cultural programs.

In mid-December, Russia was embroiled in a diplomatic row with Britain after the British government expelled a Russian diplomat for espionage. Russia then requested the removal of a British diplomat.

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