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US declares 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata

December 29, 2016, 23:00 UTC+3

Washington said that it would also deny Russian personnel access to two recreational compounds in the United States owned by the Russian Government

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© AP Photo/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON, December 29. /TASS/. Washington declared 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata, the US Department of State said in an official statement Thursday.

"The State Department today declared persona non grata 35 Russian officials operating in the United States who were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic or consular status," the statement reads.

The names and ranks of the expelled diplomats were not disclosed.

The move came "as part of a comprehensive response to Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and to a pattern of harassment of our diplomats overseas that has increased over the last four years, including a significant increase in the last 12 months," the Department of State said, adding that the alleged harassment included "arbitrary police stops, physical assault, and the broadcast on State TV of personal details about our personnel that put them at risk."

The Department of State also accused Moscow of impeded diplomatic operations by, among other things, the "closure of 28 American corners which hosted cultural programs and English-language teaching; blocking our efforts to begin the construction of a new, safer facility for our Consulate General in St. Petersburg; and rejecting requests to improve perimeter security at the current, outdated facility in St. Petersburg.

"Today’s actions send a clear message that such behavior is unacceptable and will have consequences," the Department of State said.

Washington also informed the Russian government that it would deny Russian personnel access to two recreational compounds in the United States owned by the Russian Government.

The White House said the diplomats were given 72 hours to leave.

The Russian embassy in the US did not comment on the move.

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