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Russia declares persona non-grata Finnish boy-smuggling diplomat


MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Ministry declared on Monday Simo Pietilainen, a former employee at the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg, who helped a Finnish man illegally take his son out of Russia, persona non grata.

The 5-year-old boy, Anton Salonen, who also has Russian citizenship, was illegally taken out of Russia last month by his Finnish father, Paavo Salonen, with the help of Pietilainen.

"On June 8 Finnish ambassador to Russia Anttonen was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was informed that Finnish consulate employee Simo Pietilainen had been declared persona non grata for gross violation of Russian laws and the Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations," the ministry said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov protested to his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb, on May 14 after the boy was taken out of Russia.

Anton was born in Finland and has Finnish citizenship. His mother, Rimma Salonen, has double Russian-Finnish citizenship.

Nesterenko earlier said Russia is examining the possibility of joining the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg earlier confirmed that the diplomat who helped to take Anton out of Russia was employed at the embassy at the time, but has since been dismissed.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last week during a visit to Helsinki that the former Finnish diplomat's actions undermine trust between the countries, adding that the place for such people should be "not at the diplomatic service but in church."

Finnish President Tarja Halonen condemned the diplomat's behavior, saying she "regrets very much what happened."


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