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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow refers to the banishment of a Russian diplomat from Latvia as a provocative move and is ready to retaliate, according to the Russian foreign ministry's statement.

    "The Russian foreign ministry confirms the fact that a Russian embassy official in Latvia has been asked to leave the country for activity which allegedly runs counter to his diplomatic status," says the statement.

    "Official Riga's provocation which is quite in line with the anti-Russia policy of the current Latvian leadership has come as no surprise-on April 12 this year, the Russian foreign ministry issued a warning about such kind of plans by Latvian political Russophobes," says the statement.

    "This entirely groundless challenge indicates once again that the Baltic capitals suffer from an obvious shortage of independence in decision-making," continues the statement.

    "It stands to reason that the Russian side reserves the right to take similar action in response," comments the Russian foreign ministry.

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