Russia expels Moldovan diplomat in retaliatory move

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Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was expelling a Moldovan diplomat in what it cast as retaliation for the expulsion last week of a Russian diplomat in Moldova.

The ministry said in a statement it had summoned Moldova’s ambassador in Moscow to announce the expulsion, as well as to protest against what it called “unfriendly steps toward Russia” and “regular anti-Russian statements” from Chisinau.

Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu called the move “hostile” and said it was the latest episode in decades of Russian efforts to hold back Moldova’s development as an independent state.

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Moldova said last week it was expelling a Russian diplomat. A government spokesman linked that expulsion to actions of embassy staff towards Moldovan border guards who had denied entry to a regional Russian politician at Chisinau airport.

Moldovan police said that Tatarstan governor Rustam Minnikhanov had wanted to visit Moldova to boost support for a pro-Russian candidate in a regional election.

Moldova, which applied to join the European Union last year alongside its neighbor Ukraine, has repeatedly accused Russia of trying to destabilize the country, something Moscow denies.

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