MOSCOW, November 6. /TASS/. Moscow expects explanations and apologies from Oslo concerning an incident with Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) employee Mikhail Bochkarev, who was charged with espionage in Norway, the Russian embassy in Oslo said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Russia cannot consider the Mikhail Bochkarev incident closed. We cannot pretend that nothing happened and it is a matter only for law enforcement agencies to tackle," the statement reads. "The masterminds and perpetrators of this provocation must be held accountable. Russia expects serious explanations and apologies from Norway," the embassy added.
"It is no ordinary offense. Another blow has been delivered to bilateral relations. Russian representatives have been facing more and more issues while in Norway, and dialogue is becoming more and more difficult," the statement says.
According to the embassy, the Bochkarev incident was a result of the anti-Russian atmosphere created by Norwegian authorities. "What happened in Norway is a result of the authorities’ condoning of a paranoid spy mania, fostered by the country’s intelligence agencies, and a toxic atmosphere created by anti-Russian statements regularly made by the Norwegian establishment, including the Storting [Norway’s parliament]," the embassy noted.
"An expert was invited to the Storting, a stronghold of democracy in Norway, which should be an example of openness, and was arrested only for being on the parliament premises. Is it a new form of Norwegian hospitality to invite people and then provoke their arrest?" Russian diplomats said.
According to the embassy, the country’s media have a special responsibility. "For a whole month, they savored the details of the incident, published unverified information and leaks, invented horror stories about the Russian state spying on Norwegians even in their own parliament building and threw dirt at our country, forgetting their main task, which is to provide the public with objective information. After this anti-Russian trick failed, they all became silent as if on cue," the Russian embassy stressed.
Bochkarev was detained at Oslo Gardermoen Airport on September 21 on espionage charges. According to Norway, he was collecting data during a European Center for Parliamentary Research and Documentation seminar, held in the Storting’s building, using the local Wi-Fi network. However, Bochkarev was released from custody on October 19 and returned to his home country.
The Federation Council employee slammed his arrest as absurd, while his lawyer said that a countersuit against Norwegian authorities would be filed.
Following Bochkarev’s arrest, Russian senators decided to refrain from visiting Norway in the near future.