SAN FRANCISCO, November 30. /TASS/. Washington keeps rejecting the Russian side’s requests to visit its closed diplomatic property in the US, but Moscow will press the case by all legal means, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told reporters on Wednesday (Thursday for Moscow) in the Fairmont San Francisco hotel.
"We are constantly addressing the Department of State asking to allow our employees, our diplomats to visit the Russian property in San Francisco, by the way, and in New York and Washington," Antonov stressed. "They keep rejecting [our request] without explaining the reasons." He also noted that Moscow will "search for various ways to both get access to the diplomatic property and return it" by all legal means."
Asked about whether there is a chance to ultimately get access to the property, the ambassador answered, "All I can say is we won’t stop here. We will continue to search for various ways to both get access to the diplomatic property and return it, so that Russian banners flew over our Russian property."
Antonov plans to inspect the seized Russian diplomatic facilities from the outside during his stay in San Francisco.
While talking to reporters at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, the ambassador pointed out that Russian diplomats were still being denied a permission to enter those facilities. "No explanations have been provided," he said. "But in any case, I would like to go there and at least inspect our property from the outside to see if everything is all right," Antonov added.
The Russian ambassador also said that before his trip to California, he "considered it necessary to request the Department of State to provide me with a permission to visit the Russian property in San Francisco." "It includes the building of our Consulate General, which was illegally seized from us, as well as the Consul General’s residence," he noted, adding that "I believe that it is normal, as we have the right to visit our own property."
Antonov said that he would particularly like to know "what is going on there." "Our people left in a hurry. I would like to know if everything is all right there. However, my request was rejected with no explanations," the ambassador noted. According to him, it was not the first time when such requests were rejected.
On September 2, the US authorities closed down Russia’s Consulate General in San Francisco, trade mission in Washington and its New York branch, which Russia had been leasing. The first two facilities are Russia’s state property and have diplomatic immunity. Moscow considered the seizure of its diplomatic facilities to be an openly hostile act and urged the US authorities to immediately return them.
On September 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Foreign Ministry had been instructed to file a lawsuit over the seizure of the diplomatic property with a US court.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said later that the lawsuit was being prepared and would be brought to court in the near future.