02:03 GMT +316 October 2018
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    The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Seattle, Washington, U.S., March 26, 2018

    CRA: US Punishes Own Citizens by Closing Russian Consulates

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Congress of Russian Americans (CRA) plans to send US President Donald Trump a letter to protest the expulsion of Russian diplomats, CRA President Natalia Sabelnik told Sputnik

    "We are shocked by this decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats," Sabelnik, president of one of the oldest Russian associations in the United States, said on Monday. "We will write an official letter to Trump on this case."

    The situation with Skripal did not represent an attack against the United States, the CRA President said.

    "If Russia manipulated the US elections and elected Trump, why they did not elect leaders all over the world? And if they were so clever to do this, why they became so stupid in Skripal case?" Sabelnik asked.

    She added that Russian Americans voted for Trump in hopes he will lead US-Russian relations in the right direction, but the situation is completely different than hoped.

    Moreover, the United States is punishing its own citizens by closing Russian consulates, the President of the CRA told Sputnik.

    "In 2017, they [the United States] closed the consulate in San Francisco, and now — in Seattle. The US authorities expelled Russian diplomats who returned home and continued their work. And whom did the US authorities punish? They penalized the people who live here," Sabelnik said.

    Sabelnik explained the complicating effects of the US government’s decision given that US citizens who want to visit Russia must obtain visas.

    "To obtain visas and other consular services, now we need to fly several hours [to a different consulate]," Sabelnik said.

    Earlier on Monday, Washington announced its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats over allegations of involvement in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK. The US government also closed the Russia Consulate General in Seattle.

    Meanwhile, 16 EU countries, as well as the United States, Canada, Albania, Norway and Ukraine have announced their decision to expel Russian diplomats in connection with the incident in Salisbury.

    Skripal, a former GRU colonel, who worked for UK intelligence, and his daughter Yulia have been in a hospital in critical condition since March 4 due to exposure to what UK experts say was a A234 nerve agent. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of orchestrating the attack.

    Russia, for its part, has strongly rejected the accusations and offered to help in the investigation. However, Moscow's request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal was rejected. Moscow expelled UK diplomats in response and ordered the British Council to cease its activities in Russia.

    The Congress of Russian Americans, one of the oldest Russian-American associations, has between 6,000 and 10,000 members. The organization has representatives across the United States.

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    expulsion, direction, right, diplomats, vote, relations, Congress of Russian Americans (CRA), Natalia Sabelnik, Sergei Skripal, United States
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