The Greek government will expel two Russian diplomats and ban entry into Greece of another two for activities inconsistent with their status, Greek daily Kathimerini reported.
Citing top diplomatic sources, Kathimerini reported that the measures taken by Athens were a response to illegal actions on Greek soil which were deemed as intervention by a foreign power into internal Greek affairs.
According to the report by Kathimerini, the allegation include the attempt by Russian diplomats to extract and circulate information, and to bribe Greek state officials.Athens’ decision is said to be "a response to a number of well-coordinated steps aimed at increasing Russia’s influence in Greece."
Athens has already decided and ordered the immediate expulsion of two people, including the Russian Embassy official Victor Yakovlev, and the expulsion of two more.
Despite this latest development, the same sources state that Greece continues, in line with its long-standing policy, to desire to maintain good relations with Russia and to promote friendship between the two peoples and the cooperation of their governments but they add that this can only be the case if both countries respect each other’s sovereignty.
Diplomatic sources stressed that Athens’ decision for the expulsions is confined to the specific four persons and does not change the broader good intentions of Greece toward Russia.
They also said that any retaliatory measures that Moscow might take will only lead to further deterioration of relations.
Greece will not tolerate any behavior which violates international law, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Wednesday when questioned on Greece’s Skai TV over reports Greece would expel Russian diplomats.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday Moscow always takes tit-for-tat measures in response to diplomat expulsions, TASS news agency reported.
"The expulsion of diplomats always leads to tit-for-tat measures," TASS quoted an official at the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying.