Albania says it is expelling a Russian diplomat for allegedly violating lockdown rules aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus in the Adriatic country.
The Albanian government declared Aleksei Krivosheev “persona non grata” and required him to leave the country within 72 hours, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on January 21, citing "repeated" violations of pandemic restrictions by the diplomat since April 2020.
The ministry said senior representatives of the Foreign Ministry first addressed the matter with the Russia ambassador in Tirana, but the diplomat continued to break lockdown rules.
“Repeated challenging of the protective rules and steps on the pandemic, and disregarding the concerns of Albanian state institutions related to that, cannot be justified and tolerated anymore,” the statement said.
Albania has imposed an overnight curfew, mandatory use of masks both indoors and outdoors, as well as social distancing.
The Foreign Ministry did not give the diplomat’s position or provide details on the alleged violations, but said the expulsion was "necessary to ensure the health and safety of all citizens, Albanian or otherwise."
The government "wishes for friendly relations with the Russian Federation to be strengthened," it said.
There was no immediate comment from Russian officials.
In 2018, Albania expelled two Russian diplomats, saying their activities were not compliant with their diplomatic status.
Tirana resumed diplomatic relations with Moscow in 1991, 30 years after the country's then-communist regime severed previously close ties with the Soviet Union.