MOSCOW, May 4. /TASS/. Moscow has protested the US’ unlawful dismantling of the Russian flag, which was hoisted at the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, unfortunately, last October we were forced to voice a protest after the United States had illegally stripped the Russian flag from the property owned by Russia," she said. "It occurred six months ago in Washington and San Francisco where the buildings of Russia’s trade mission and consulate general respectively had been seized."
"The other day it happened to our Consul General’s residence in Seattle," Zakharova added, noting that "the fact that facilities, which have been used for diplomatic and consular purposes for many decades, were intentionally deprived of immunity raises very serious questions."
"Being the owner, Russia did not grant any permission to trespass on its property and to remove flags from those buildings," the diplomat continued. "This was done by the people who penetrated our territory earlier by barging through the gate and entrance doors, carried out a total search in others’ houses, without having any right to do so, and who since then have been throwing their weight around there like true raiders."
According to Zakharova, Russia "has not been allowed into six compounds in the US."
"Among them are two buildings in San Francisco, one in Washington and one in Seattle, along with recreational compounds of our embassy and permanent mission to the United Nations," the spokeswoman said.
"Never in the history of Russian-American relations have such breaches by Washington of its own legislation been witnessed," Zakharova concluded.
Earlier, Russia’s embassy in Washington said that the Russian flag had been removed from the building of Consul General’s residence in Seattle by the US authorities. The embassy referred to those actions as "another example of a gross breach of international law by Washington."
"The residence of Consul General is the property of the Russian Federation, which is inviolable," the embassy said, adding that it insists on the flag being returned.
On Tuesday, a US State Department official said the flag would be returned to the Russian Embassy in Washington.
In late March, the US administration announced it was expelling 48 Russian diplomats and 12 diplomats from Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in New York. It also closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The move came in the wake of the March 4 poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for the UK, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.