MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. Moscow has notified Hungary’s ambassador about the expulsion of one Hungarian embassy staff member, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"On April 4, Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Hungarian Ambassador to Russia Janos Balla to hand a note of protest to him and notify him that Moscow was declaring one Hungarian embassy staff member persona non grata in retaliation to Budapest’s unfriendly decision to expel a Russian diplomat based on the UK’s groundless allegations against Russia concerning the Skripal case," the statement reads.
Skripal incident and expulsion of diplomats
Hungary was one of the EU members that expelled Russian diplomats in the wake of the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury.
On March 4, Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. 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.
However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.
A number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia also announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. In particular, Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.