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Russia expels Latvian diplomat in apparent tit-for-tat move-2

(Adds Latvia's reaction in last two paras)

MOSCOW, January 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will expel a Latvian diplomat following the expulsion of a Russian Embassy official from the Baltic state earlier this week, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said in a statement that a Latvian Embassy officer has been declared persona non grata and ordered "to leave Russia within two days for activities incompatible with his diplomatic status and damaging the country's national security." The diplomat's name was not disclosed.

The move came after the ex-Soviet state expelled a Russian diplomat accusing him of espionage. Moscow called the expulsion an "unfriendly act" and promised retaliation.

It is the second time Latvia has expelled a Russian diplomat since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2004, the country expelled Pyotr Urzhumov. Russia expelled Juris Poikans, first secretary of the Latvian embassy, in response.

Latvia's Foreign Ministry dismissed Russia's accusations on Friday calling Moscow's reaction regrettable.

"We regret such a reaction to the Latvian Foreign Ministry's decision to expel the Russian diplomat, and categorically deny that the Latvian diplomat engaged in any activities except his official duties," the ministry said.

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