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US diplomats vacate St. Petersburg consulate building

April 01, 2018, 2:59 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

The last group of US diplomats left the premises at about 23:50 Moscow time

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© Sergei Konkov/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, April 1. /TASS/. Employees of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg have vacated the building by late Saturday, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene.

According to the correspondent, the last group of US diplomats left the premises at about 23:50 Moscow time.

"The building was cleared for acceptance [by an acceptance commission], consulate employees have already vacated it," an informed source told reporters.

Efforts to remove US diplomatic property from the building began on Friday. Earlier, at about 19:30 Moscow time on Saturday, the US flag has been removed from a balcony on the third floor of the building.

The US Consulate General has been operating in St. Petersburg since 1972. It works with ten Russian regions such as the regions of Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Murmansk, Novgorod and Pskov, the Republic of Karelia, and also the Nenets Autonomous District. According to the US State Department, in February, the St. Petersburg Consulate General issued about 2,000 visas.

On March 26, showing solidarity with London in the incident with the poisoning of Russian ex-intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Washington announced that it would expel 60 Russian diplomats from the country within a week and close the Russian Consulate General in Seattle on April 2.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that in response Moscow would expel 60 US diplomats from the country and close the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg before March 31.

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