09:56 GMT +318 August 2017
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    Russian policemen stand guard in front of the US Embassy in Moscow on December 30, 2016

    Lavrov Blames US Embassy for Hiring Russians Contrary to Int'l Convetion Rules

    © AFP 2017/ Alexander NEMENOV
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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the US embassy in Moscow hires Russian citizens to perform non-technical work contrary to international conventions.

    "According to the Vienna Convention [on Diplomatic Relations], if you hire nationals of the country where your embassy works, these people can exclusively be technical staff — drivers, typists, stenographers. They don't have the right to get involved in diplomatic activity, including political aspects," Lavrov said.

    Despite this fact, Russia has repeatedly learned about incidents when locally hired US embassy employees toured regions and surveyed the local residents on their opinion about the governor or federal authorities.

    "In this case, we politely ask our US colleagues to break the employment relationships with these people. I think that they [US authorities] don't perceive these cases as interference, because, first, they feel free to do everything they want, and second, it runs in their blood," Lavov said.

    After US Senate approved a bill that imposes sweeping sanctions on Russia and seeks, in particular, to target companies that invest in Russian energy projects, that was later signed into law by President Donald Trump, the Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow and also offered the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by September 1.

    In December 2016, the administration of former US President Barack Obama imposed a set of punitive measures against Russia, including the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closure of the two Russian diplomatic compounds. The actions were taken in response to Moscow's alleged interference in the US presidential election, which Russia has repeatedly denied.

    Back in December, Putin decided not to respond to sanctions imposed by the outgoing US administration and act in accordance with the ties built with the new US leadership. However, since then, the diplomatic property hasn't been returned. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow would take retaliatory measures against Washington if the situation with Russia's diplomatic property in the United States was not resolved.

    On Thursday, Trump welcomed the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut down the number of staff of US diplomatic missions in Russia as it would help the US government save money.

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    US Embassy, Sergei Lavrov, Russia, United States
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