Russia slammed for diplomat's arrest

2010-08-17 21:18

Bucharest - The Romanian foreign ministry on Tuesday accused Russian authorities of a "serious violation" of diplomatic protocol by detaining a Romanian diplomat working in Moscow for spying.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the serious violation by the Russian authorities of the Vienna conventions on diplomatic protocol of 1961 by the detention during the day of August 16 of a Romanian diplomat accredited to Moscow and the completely inadequate treatment to which they subjected him," it said in a statement.

The Romanian foreign ministry said it had transmitted the message to the Russian embassy in Bucharest, and warned it "will take the necessary measures in response and announce them at the appropriate time".

Nations often engage it tit-for-tat expulsions of spies working under diplomatic cover.

Russia's FSB security agency said on Monday it had detained a Romanian diplomat for spying, and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

The FSB named him as Gabriel Grecu, who was accredited as the first secretary at the Romanian embassy in Moscow, and said he had been caught trying to receive secret military information and had "spying equipment" on him.

Relations between Romania and Russia have grown more tense since Bucharest's decision to host three batteries of interceptor missiles as part of a planned US defence shield in Europe.

In February, Russia said it has "serious questions regarding the true purpose of the US missile system," and denounced the lack of transparency by Bucharest and Washington on the issue.

Romanian officials, like the Americans, have numerous times reassured Moscow the system is purely defensive.

The Romanian diplomat's expulsion also comes shortly after the biggest spy swap between Russia and the US since the Cold War in July, after Washington busted a group of 10 Kremlin spies and deported them in return for four Russians accused of spying for the West.