Albania's Expulsion of Russian Diplomat to Be Retaliated by Moscow

Albania's foreign ministry has said it had declared "persona non grata" a Russian diplomat over repeated failures to respect coronavirus infection control measures that "cannot be tolerated" as Moscow retorted by declaring it would retaliate in kind.
The Albanian government said the diplomat, named as Alexey Krivosheev, a second secretary at the embassy, has to leave the country within 72 hours, bringing to attention "repeated" violations of pandemic restrictions by him since April 2020.
The ministry said senior representatives of the foreign ministry first addressed the matter with the Russian ambassador to Tirana, but the diplomat continued to break lockdown rules.
“Repeated challenging of the protective rules and steps on the pandemic, and disregarding the concerns of Albanian state institutions related to that, cannot be justified and tolerated anymore,” the statement said.
Albania has imposed an overnight curfew, mandatory use of masks both indoors and outdoors, as well as social distancing.
The foreign ministry did not provide details on the alleged violations, but said the expulsion was "necessary to ensure the health and safety of all citizens, Albanian or otherwise."
But the government nevertheless "wishes for friendly relations with the Russian Federation to be strengthened," the ministry said.
There was no immediate comment from Russian officials.
But the RIA news agency reported Russia's foreign ministry vowed on Friday to retaliate in kind against Albania for expelling the diplomat, a move it said was aimed at harming bilateral relations.
In 2018, Albania expelled two Russian diplomats, saying their activities were not compliant with their diplomatic status.
The Russian diplomat was ordered to leave Albania on Thursday for flouting rules to curb the pandemic, it said.
Tirana resumed diplomatic relations with Moscow in 1991, 30 years after the country's then-communist regime severed previously close ties with the Soviet Union. /argumentum.al