Russia declares Lithuanian diplomat persona non grata
Russia declared a Lithuanian official persona non grata - the military attache of the Lithuanian embassy in Russia. “The interim plenipotentiary of Lithuania in the Russian Federation was invited to the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry today. We informed the plenipotentiary the military attache of the Lithuanian republic in the Russian Federation, Colonel Sigitas Butkus, was declared persona non grata in connection with activities, which caused damage to Russian interests,” a message from the ministry ran. The Lithuanian diplomat was given 48 hours to leave the country.
The message also said the interim plenipotentiary was informed the Russian government decided not to accredit Colonel R. Zhibasa as the new Lithuanian military attache.
Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Antanas Valenis stated Russia's decision was a response to the expulsion of three Russian diplomats from Lithuania in February of the current year. Lithuanian officials claimed Russian diplomats' activities were incompatible with their status, BNS agency reports. News agency France Presse reported at that time with reference to anonymous diplomatic sources, Russian diplomats had been expelled due to espionage. Arturas Paulauskas, the speaker of the Seimas, confirmed the expulsion reason: “The information is correct, the foreign minister will clarify all the details,” Paulauskas told BNS agency. A spokesperson for the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry said Russian diplomats had been expelled due to a political scandal connected with Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas.
Indeed, the diplomatic scandal between Russia and Lithuania in February occurred because of the charges brought against the Lithuanian president. The parliamentary committee for impeachment accused the president of his ties with Russian special services, the Russian mafia and the international crime.”
It is noteworthy, Lithuania declared businessman Yury Borisov persona non grata at the end of 2003. Borisov is the owner of the company Avia Baltika based in Lithuania's Kaunas. The chopper-repairing company funded Paksas's election campaign. The Constitutional Court found the president's decree to grant recurring citizenship to Borisov was illegal. Lithuanian parliamentarians demanded the businessman should be expelled.