Albania has expelled a Russian diplomat for repeatedly violating the country”s COVID-19 pandemic measures, the Foreign Ministry said.
Tirana has declared Alexey Krivosheev “persona non grata” and requested him to leave the country within 72 hours.
“The Albanian Government has had constant complaints and denunciations, on the open violations of the measures taken by a diplomat of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Tirana,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Albania added that they had first contacted the Russian ambassador to express their concern that the diplomat had persisted in breaking pandemic restrictions since last April.
“The ministry welcomed and deeply appreciated the ambassador’s fully cooperation in this matter, with the promise that these acts would not be repeated,” the statement continued.
“Unfortunately, contrary to the promises, the diplomat continued to violate the measures, despite the expression of goodwill of both parties not to repeat the violations.”
Without giving further details, Albania said the violations showed “disregard” to the concerns of the country’s government, which “can not be justified and can not be further tolerated”.
The country has implemented an overnight curfew during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the mandatory use of masks indoor and outdoors.
The Foreign Ministry also expressed hope that the decision to expel the diplomat “in such a challenging time for the whole globe” would be fully understood by Russia.
“[It was] a necessary measure for the protection of health and safety of all citizens within the territory of the Republic of Albania, whether these are Albanians or not.”
“We assure the Russian side of our friendly feelings and our readiness, following the good work started, for the continuous improvement of the relations between our two countries.”
Moscow has not yet commented on the matter.
Albania resumed diplomatic ties with Russia in 1991, thirty years after the country’s then-communist regime severed previously close relations.
In March 2018, Albania expelled two Russian diplomats for “activities not appropriate to their diplomatic status”.