MOSCOW, February 8. /TASS/. Russia declared Albanian Embassy First Secretary Jonida Drogu persona non grata in response to similar actions of the Albanian authorities, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the diplomat must leave the country in 72 hours.
"On February 8, Albanian Ambassador to Russia Arben Gazioni was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and provided with a note on declaring the Albanian Embassy’s First Secretary Jonida Drogu persona non grata," the Ministry said.
"This step was made in response to Albania's decision to expel First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Tirana over a totally contrived pretext," the Ministry added.
Moscow views the expulsion of the Russian diplomat as an attempt to score political points and obtain support of political forces in the West amid the electoral campaign in the republic that kicked off recently.
"The Albanian actions contradict Tirana’s claims of intent to develop friendly relations between our countries and effectively push back the perspective of overcoming the stagnation in bilateral relations. Such inconsistency is regrettable," the Foreign Ministry added.
On January 21, Albania’s Top Channel reported that the Albanian government declared the Russian diplomat persona non grata over violation of epidemiological measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the TV Channel, reports of the diplomat’s violation of quarantine restrictions were coming since April 2020. At the same time, the Albanian Foreign Ministry pointed out its intent to strengthen relations with the Russian Federation. The ministry expressed hope that Russia will "treat this decision, made during a period, difficult for the entire world," with understanding.