Russia will downgrade its diplomatic relations with Qatar following an attack on the Russian ambassador by customs officers at Doha airport, the Foreign Ministry said on its website on Monday.
The ministry said Russian Ambassador Vladimir Titorenko will leave Qatar "after he finishes a course of medical treatment as a result of the attack" and Russia’s interests in Qatar will be temporarily represented by a charge d’affaires.
Airport security and customs officials beat up Titorenko and two other Russian diplomats on November 29 in an attempt to seize the diplomatic dispatch the ambassador was carrying on a return trip from Jordan.
The Qatari officials reportedly tried to X-ray the diplomatic mail despite a bilateral agreement allowing diplomats from both countries to carry diplomatic bags through customs without any inspection under the 1961 Vienna Convention.
The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a protest note to Qatari authorities on November 30, demanding “an immediate and full investigation into the incident, the strict punishment of the culprits and the prevention of similar incidents in the future.”
There has been no official response from Qatar so far.
An anonymous diplomatic source earlier told RIA Novosti that the incident had been most likely provoked by Russia’s position on the Syrian crisis, which many Qatari analysts believe advocates the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
Qatar has been consistently supporting sanctions against the Syrian regime, while Russia stands against sanctioning Syria on all diplomatic levels, including the UN Security Council.