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Moscow summons US diplomat to protest search of closed compound


Russia on Saturday summoned the top US envoy in Moscow to protest a search it says American officials are planning at a diplomatic facility in Washington that is due to be shuttered.

The foreign ministry said it called in acting US mission head Anthony Godfrey and handed him a “note of protest over the intention of the American authorities to conduct a search” at a Russian trade representation.

“We consider the planned illegitimate search of the Russian diplomatic premises without the presence of Russian officials and a threat to break down the front door as an unprecedented, aggressive act,” a statement said.

“It could be used by the US intelligence services to organise an anti-Russian provocation involving planting compromising materials.”

The trade facility in Washington is one of three diplomatic buildings — including the consulate in San Francisco and an office in New York — that the US has ordered Moscow to vacate by Saturday in the latest twist in a tit-for-tat feud.

The foreign ministry alleged Friday that US intelligence agents were planning to search the consulate in San Francisco.

Black smoke was seen pouring from the chimney of the consulate on Friday and firefighters confirmed its occupants were burning unidentified objects.

A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry said the smoke was due to measures being taken to “preserve the building” as officials were preparing to leave.

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