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Kosovo Declares Russian UN Worker Persona Non Grata

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Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj

PRISTINA -- Kosovo has proclaimed a Russian UN worker persona non grata and ordered him expelled from the country.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj posted on Facebook on May 31 that he had ordered the Foreign Ministry to declare Mikhail Krasnoshchekov unwelcome, effective immediately.

Haradinaj also called on the special representative of the UN secretary-general in Kosovo to comply with the decision.

However, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said UN personnel could not be declared "persona non grata" as they represent the United Nations and not a foreign country. He stressed that UN staff enjoy diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

"I would like to note that the doctrine of 'persona non grata' does not apply to or in respect of United Nations personnel," Haq told reporters in New York on May 31.

"We stand by the immunity of our personnel who are on duty."​

Krasnoshchekov was detained on May 28 in a series of police raids in the country's Serb-dominated north. Nineteen police officers were arrested in the raids on suspicion of "criminal activities," while Krasnoshchekov, one other UN mission member, and six ethnic Serbs were detained on suspicion of hampering the police operation.

Krasnoshchekov was quickly released and sought medical attention in a hospital in North Mitrovica. He was later transferred to the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade.

Russia's ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandr Chepurin, on May 31 visited Krasnoshchekov in the hospital and called the incident "barbarity and an atrocity."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking in Tokyo the same day, called the actions by the Kosovar authorities "absolutely unacceptable."

"Their attempts to strip our member of his powers and status, which UN mission employees have, is a very serious issue," Lavrov said. "UN representatives should respond to it."

Kosovo is a former province of Serbia that unilaterally declared independence in 2008. Although 112 UN member countries have recognized Kosovo, Russia and Serbia have not.

With reporting by TASS
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