MOSCOW, February 11. /TASS/. Foreign embassies’ staffers who participated in unauthorized protest demonstrations in Russia knew they were breaking the law, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday.
"The demonstrations that took place in Moscow on January 23 and 30 in Moscow and St. Petersburg were not agreed with the local executive authorities, contrary to the federal law on meetings, rallies, demonstrations, processions and pickets. Accordingly, the participants, including foreign diplomats and consular officials were well aware they were breaking the laws of the host country. Also, the ban on public events temporarily introduced in connection with the pandemic was violated, too," Zakharova said.
She stressed that the organizers of the demonstrations in question had intentionally declared in public they were not going to obtain permission to demonstrate.
"For this reason, the participation of staffers of Swedish and Polish consulates and the German embassy in the January 23 and 30 demonstrations was not just interference in the internal affairs of Russia, but intentional and deliberate defiance of the laws and rules of the host country," Zakharova said.
On January 5, Russia declared personae non gratae the Swedish, Polish and German diplomats who participated in illegal demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg on January 23. The Swedish, Polish and German officials were summoned to the Foreign Ministry on the same day. A protest was expressed to them.
On February 8, the three countries in question retaliated by expelling Russian diplomats.