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Russia to send note to US embassy over incident in Severodvinsk

Severodvinsk is a city that foreign nationals need official permission to visit
Russia’s Foreign Ministry  Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Russia’s Foreign Ministry
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Ministry will send a note to the US Embassy on Thursday after an incident with US diplomats in Severodvinsk, who are suspected of breaching travel rules, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov told reporters on Thursday.

"We are going to send it today," the high-ranking diplomat said.

Three US diplomats were removed from a train running between Nyonoksa and Severodvinsk in the Russian northern Arkhangelsk Region after being suspected of violating travel rules for foreigners in Russia. Severodvinsk is a city that foreign nationals need official permission to visit.

According to the deputy foreign minister, the only consequence the US diplomats could face was filing administrative protocols. "These are the embassy’s staff members and as I understand they work for the military attache, and enjoy immunity," he explained. The senior diplomat also confirmed that the trip had been coordinated, but its destination was Arkhangelsk, not Severodvinsk.

"Some administrative protocols will be drawn up, but they enjoy immunity, so I think just checks will be conducted to find out how this had happened," Ivanov said.

A source in the law enforcement agencies told TASS earlier that the incident took place on October 14. The US diplomats are suspected of an administrative offence under Article 18.8 of Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences ("violating by a foreign citizen or a stateless person the rules for entry to the Russian Federation or the regimen for staying (residing) in the Russian Federation").

A State Department spokesperson earlier told TASS that the diplomats had "properly notified" the Russian authorities, namely the Russian Defense Ministry, of their travel plans. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the diplomats had announced an intention to visit Arkhangelsk, but instead found themselves on the way to Severodvinsk.