SKOPJE, April 2. /TASS/. The Russian diplomat expelled from Macedonia over the Salisbury incident, as well as his family members, left the country on Monday morning, a TASS correspondent reported.
According to the correspondent, those leaving Macedonia were seen from the Russian embassy to the sound of the Proshchaniye Slavyanki patriotic march. They arrived at Skopje airport accompanied by a group of Russian diplomatic workers led by Ambassador Oleg Shcherbak.
A number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia earlier announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer Sergei Skripal, which the UK blames on Moscow without providing any evidence. In particular, Washington expelled 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. In addition, the US authorities decided to close Russia’s consulate in Seattle.
Macedonia was one of the countries that joined the anti-Russian campaign, expelling one diplomat. Skopje’s decision evoked diverse reactions from Macedonian society. On March 27, a large-scale protest against the Russian diplomat’s expulsion took place in the country’s capital. Russian Ambassador to Macedonia Oleg Shcherbak said that the country had taken a hostile and groundless step, driven by external influence, while it was harmful for Macedonia itself.
On March 4, Skripal and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled, the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.