In response to Estonia's recent decision to expel two Russian diplomats working in Narva, Russia decided to declare the Estonian consul general in St. Petersburg and head of the Estonian consulate general chancellery for the Pskov region personae non gratae.
"In view of the unfriendly action of the Estonian authorities, which have declared two Russian diplomats unwelcome, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Estonian Ambassador in Moscow Arti Hilpus on May 31," the Russian Foreign Ministry said according to Interfax. "The chief of the Estonian diplomatic mission was handed a note saying that, in response to the aforesaid provocative step by Tallinn, a decision was made to declare Estonian Consul General in St. Petersburg Jaanus Kirikmae and head of the chancellery for the Pskov region at the Estonian Consulate General in St. Petersburg Katrin Kanarik personae non gratae," the ministry added.
According to the Russian ministry, the event only proves that the Estonian government is implementing the destructive policy that contradicts the long-term interests of relations between the neighboring states. Responsibility for consequences lies with the Estonian authorities, the ministry added.
The two Estonian diplomats were given five days to leave the Russian Federation.
Russian envoy: Estonia's decisions reduce to nothing positive shifts in relations
The Russian ambassador to Estonia has expressed regret that the decision of the Estonian authorities to expel the Russian consul general in Narva and a Russian consul, as well as the retaliatory steps that Russia was forced to take, bring to naught positive changes which have occurred in bilateral relations of late.
"We have not been initiators of the kind, we were forced to react to this apparently unfriendly action by the Estonian authorities," Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov told Interfax commenting on Moscow's decision to expel two Estonian diplomats.
"The decisions made by the Estonian authorities unfortunately reduce to nothing many positive changes which we have achieved this year," he said.
The ambassador listed a trip by Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas to St. Petersburg on April 8, a trip by a group of Estonian MPs and businesspeople to the TransRussia exhibition, "where quite useful talks have taken place," just like the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on promoting the development of interregional and border cooperation on May 18, among the things which "quite favorably" influence the development of bilateral relations.
"There have been certain shifts, which indicate our bilateral cooperation, but the Estonian side's decision reduces to nothing this effect of apparently quite hopeful development in our bilateral relationship, which causes our understandable regret," Petrov said.
"I resolutely reject the talk and suspicions concerning both of our employees when it comes to activity inconsistent with their diplomatic status," he said, commenting on some media reports that Russian diplomats were expelled because of hard talk with the mayor of the town of Kivioli.
"It is difficult for me to understand the true reasons behind the decision made by the Estonian side. If the cause lies in this conversation, it is even more unclear to me, because talk is talk and the mayor said it was emotional. I do not understand how such decisions entailing great responsibility can be made on the basis of a simple conversation," the ambassador said.
It was announced on last Friday afternoon that Estonia has decided to send two Russian diplomats, Russian Consul General in Narva Dmitry Kazennov and consul Andrey Surgaev, out of the country.
Spokesperson for the Estonian Foreign Ministry Sandra Kamilova told BNS at the time that the decision had been made but refused to give out further details. The Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) confirmed that they are aware of this.
In line with diplomatic practice, the country whose representatives are told to leave another country will answer on the same scale, by expelling diplomats of the other party.
The Russian embassy in Tallinn on Wednesday said that Surgaev left Estonia on Tuesday and Kazennov is scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday. Estonia ordered the Russian diplomats to leave the country by the end of May.