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Georgia expels Russian diplomat over UK nerve agent attack

29 March 2018
The former building of the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi, now the Russian Interest Section under the Swiss Embassy to Tbilisi (Wikipedia)

Georgia has expelled a Russian Diplomat from the country in solidarity with the UK, over the Salisbury chemical attack. Georgia joins at least 26 countries who have expelled Russian intelligence officers and diplomats in the wake of the attack.

On Thursday, Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave the diplomat seven  days to leave Georgia.

The diplomat, who is a staff member at the Russian Federation Interests Section at the Embassy of Switzerland in Tbilisi, has now been declared a persona non grata. Georgia’s foreign ministry has not publicly identified him.

According to the Georgian Public Broadcaster, there are 10 Russian diplomats working at the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi.

Following the August 2008 War, Georgia cut off diplomatic relations with Russia, closing their embassy in Tbilisi. In 2009, Switzerland, acting in a neutral capacity, opened the Russian Interest Section, while simultaneously opening a Georgian Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy in Moscow.

About thirty countries, including many of Georgia’s allies, have so far expelled Russian diplomats and intelligence officers, after the attempted murder of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the UK.

The Skripals were poisoned with a nerve agent earlier in March, at the front door of their Salisbury home. The attack also left a police officer who attended the scene in hospital.

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The foreign ministry’s statement said that Georgia ‘condemns the use of chemical weapons on the territory of the United Kingdom that caused grave human suffering of three individuals and posed serious threat to life and health of others’, adding that this is a ‘serious challenge to common security’.