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Russia Wants to Expel Georgian Diplomat

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, April 16
(TBILISI) - The Georgian Foreign Ministry reported last Friday that Russia has demanded the expulsion of a Georgian diplomat at the Interests Section at the Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow, after Georgia’s decision to expel one of 10 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the United Kingdom (UK) over the case of the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry says that they received a diplomatic note from Russia on Friday, via the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi. As Russia and Georgia have no diplomatic ties since the Russia-Georgia 2008 war, Switzerland has been a mediator.

“The note demanded the withdrawal of one Georgian diplomats currently serving in Moscow at the Swiss Embassy Interests Section,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry stated.

Georgia announced about the expulsion of a Russian diplomat on March 29 after NATO and tens of foreign states expelled Russian diplomats and stood by the UK, as the latter says Russia has deployed a chemical weapon on its territory.

The US and UK welcomed the Georgia’s decision.

On April 6 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin said that “Georgia was under the international influence to expel a Russian diplomat.”

He said that the step was “surprising.”

Col Sergei Skripal,66, is a former Russian military intelligence agent who sold secrets to the UK secret intelligence. He was imprisoned in Russia but was later sent to the UK as part of a spy swap in 2010.

He was found slumped over on a shopping centre bench on March 4, alongside with his unconscious 33-year-old daughter Yulia Skripal.

British experts claim that a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union was used to poison them. They say extremely dangerous secret toxins known as Novicho were used against Skripals.

Yulia Skripal was discharged from hospital a couple of days ago as she showed signs of recovery, while his father remains in hospital.

The UK says the attack was "very likely” to have been carried out by Russia and has prompted the biggest crisis in UK-Russia relations since the end of the Cold War.

Russia denies responsibility for the attack.