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Russia is expelling two Swedish diplomats

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the expulsion of the diplomats was a retaliatory measure

STOCKHOLM, May 8. /TASS/. Russia is expelling two Swedish diplomats, Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Rasmus Eljanskog said on Wednesday.

"Two Swedish diplomats have been asked to leave Russia," he said. "Sweden earlier announced that a Russian diplomat had been denied visa prolongation. We turned down Russia’s request for a diplomatic visa. Russia retaliated by asking two Swedish diplomats to leave Russia. We regret the Russian Foreign Ministry’s decision."

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has refrained from further comment on this score.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow on Wednesday the expulsion of two Swedish diplomats was a retaliatory measure.

In February, a Swedish subject was detained in a restaurant in the center of Stockholm on the suspicion of spying for Russia. He was having lunch in the company of a Russian diplomat who would soon leave the country. After that Russia applied for visas for other diplomats. The request was rejected.

The 45-year-old Swede, who was released from custody on March 29, is suspected of "illegal intelligence activity against Sweden" in 2017. Sweden’s security police SAPO claims that the man had been recruited by a Russian intelligence agent who worked under diplomatic cover. If found guilty, he may have to spend six months to four years in jail.

The suspect denies his guilt. He is a high-tech specialist and has access to information that may be of interest to a foreign intelligence, SAPO believes. According to the local mass media the suspect is a Sweden-born Swedish subject. He has his own research company.