Russia’s government has declared two employees of the Colombian Embassy in Moscow diplomats "personae non gratae" following the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from the South American country due to what local media reported was espionage.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on December 23 it had summoned the Colombian ambassador the previous day to protest against the “groundless decision” to expel two diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Bogota.
The envoy was also informed of Moscow’s decision to declare "personae non gratae" to two employees of the Colombian diplomatic mission, the ministry said in a statement.
Colombia said that two Russian diplomats were stripped of accreditation and forced to leave the country, saying they had been engaged in activities that were “incompatible” with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Colombian officials did not provide specifics as to why the two diplomats were expelled, but local media cited anonymous security sources as saying they were engaged in gathering military intelligence and economic information related to natural resource extraction.
In an interview with television outlet NTN24, Colombian President Ivan Duque declined to reveal more information about the issue, saying it would go against the principle of continuing good bilateral relations with Russia.
Francisco Espinosa, the head of Colombia's migration agency, told a news conference the two men left on December 8 for “issues related to the state.”