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Moldovan Leader Hopes To Discuss Russian Diplomats' Expulsion With Putin

Moldovan President Igor Dodon

Moldovan President Igor Dodon said he hopes to discuss the expulsion of Russian diplomats from his country with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg this week, Russian news agencies reported on May 30.

Moldova declared five Russian diplomats persona non grata and ordered them to leave the country within 72 hours on May 29, prompting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin to promise a "tough" response.

Dodon is scheduled to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 1-2. He said at a news conference that he will urge the Kremlin not to react hastily or emotionally to the expulsions, which he views as an attempt by pro-Western officials in Moldova to undermine ties with Moscow.

Dodon won election in late 2016 on promises of restoring closer relations with Moscow. The government of Prime Minister Pavel Filip is dominated by Dodon's opponents and favors closer ties with Europe.

Filip said on May 30 that the unidentified diplomats were expelled for security reasons, but did not elaborate.

The military attache of the Russian Embassy, Aleksandr Grudin, was seen meeting with former lawmaker Iurie Bolboceanu in a video earlier this year, prompting authorities to arrest Bolboceanu and charge him with treason.

Based on reporting by Reuters, RIA Novosti, TASS, and Interfax