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Russia Angry After Latvia Refuses Diplomat's Visa

19 May 2004 -- Russia today accused new European Union member Latvia of taking an "unfriendly step" by refusing a visa for a top Moscow diplomat.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Mikhail Demurin, deputy director of the ministry's second European department, had been denied a visa to attend an international conference.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the measure was a purely unfriendly step that complicates bilateral relations.

Latvian officials were unavailable for comment.

The accusation came two days before EU leaders were due to meet in Moscow for talks that could pave the way for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization.

(AP, Reuters)