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Russia hands note of protest to US over removed consular archives

October 26, 2017, 13:46 UTC+3

Consular archives are inviolable under international treaties, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry

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Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 26. /TASS/. Russia has lodged a note of protest to the US Embassy in Moscow over the removed archives of Russia’s Consulate-General in San Francisco, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Thursday.

"Certainly, the note of protest was sent in response to all these steps, it was handed over to the US Embassy and our statements were repeated in Washington," the diplomat said.

Washington’s steps violate the 1964 Consular Convention between the Soviet Union and the United States, under which consular archives are inviolable at any time and regardless of their location, she said.

The diplomat also cited the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which also underlines that in the event of the temporary or permanent closure of a consular post, the receiving state shall "respect and protect the consular premises, together with the property of the consular post and the consular archives."

However, Washington violated all these rules, Zakharova stressed. "Apparently, by its steps the Americans undermine the foundation of a legal framework of diplomatic and consular relations."

Earlier this week, the Russian Embassy in the US said that the US authorities had not allowed Russian diplomats to take the consular archives from the Consulate-General in San Francisco, which was shut down by the US on September 2. The US authorities packed the archives themselves, bringing them to Washington. On October 23, these documents were handed over to the Russian Embassy.

Russia gets ready for suing US over diplomatic property

Moscow is pushing ahead with preparations for taking Washington to court over illegal actions taken in relation to Russian diplomatic property, Zakharova said.

"Russia is pushing ahead with preparations for filing a lawsuit not so much against as over illegal and unacceptable actions concerning diplomatic property in the territory of the United States," she said. "Specifics may get clear when the corresponding legal organizations, structures and partners have been selected to address this issue on the merits. At this phase the whole package of questions is in the analysis phase."

"As far as official information is concerned, we will keep briefing you. At this point I cannot say anything more specific," Zakharova added.

On September 2, the US authorities closed down Russia’s consulate-general in San Francisco, trade mission in Washington and its branch in New York, which Russia had been using on lease terms. The two first facilities on the list are Russian property and enjoy diplomatic immunity. Moscow has interpreted the seizure of its assets as an openly hostile act sand urged the US authorities to urgently return them.

Speaking at a news conference in Xiamen, China, on September 5 Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Foreign Ministry to take the case over the seizure of Russian diplomatic property to a US court. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov later said that the work on the lawsuit was in progress and it would be filed in the near future.

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