Finland to expel 9 Russian embassy employees

Helsinki, Jun 7 (IANS): Nine people working at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki will be expelled from Finland, as per a decision made by President Sauli Niinistö and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.

In a statement on Tuesday, Finnish government said yesterday in a press release that the employees will be expelled because their actions have been in breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, reports the Helsinki Times.

Marja Liivala, the director general of the Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, told local media that the expulsions will be carried out in the near future but refrained from providing a more detailed timetable.

She also declined to comment on the duties of the employees in question on grounds that the decision was made based on an assessment by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo).

The Russian Embassy in Helsinki has a staff of 112 people.

Teemu Turunen, a deputy director at Supo, said that the nine employees were intelligence officers posing as diplomats.

Russia, he estimated, will continue to desire intelligence from Finland, especially in the wake of Finland's accession to NATO.

The latest development comes amid strained diplomatic relations between Finland and Russia.

Last week, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was closing its consulate in Lappeenranta and the consular offices of Finland in Murmansk and Petrozavodsk.

In May, it was also reported that the bank accounts of Finnish diplomatic missions have been frozen in Russia.

Finland has issued a diplomatic note over the account freezes, expecting a response from Russia on June 1.


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