WASHINGTON, October 12. /TASS/. Removal of flags from the seized Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States is an illegal, provocative and unfriendly step made by those US officials who seek to hamper normalization of bilateral relations, Russia’s Trade Representative to the United States Alexander Stadnik told TASS on Wednesday.
"These are absolutely illegal, absolutely provocative and absolutely unfriendly actions of those who seek to hamper restoration of normal relations. They touched our national symbols with their hands," he said.
"Our opinion is utterly simple: the flags must be on their due places," he stressed.
Russia’s embassy in the United States said earlier it had lodged a protest to the US side over removal of flags from the seized Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco and the trade mission in Washington, and demanded the flags be immediately placed back.
On September 2, the US authorities shut down the Russian trade mission in Washington, DC and its branch in New York City. Besides, they demanded that the Consulate General in San Francisco should be closed and the consul general’s residence emptied. The US set a deadline of October 1 for diplomats from the consulate general in San Francisco to pack their belongings.
The US Administration says that the facilities have been stripped of diplomatic immunity. Nonetheless, they are still Russia’s state property, except the trade mission’s office in New York City leased by Moscow.
These facilities have been actually taken under control of the Diplomatic Security Service, a law enforcement and security arm of the US Department of State.