Russia accuses three US embassy staff of theft, wants their immunity lifted

Three US citizens from the Moscow embassy (above) are reported to have stolen a backpack from a Russian national on Sept 18. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russia has asked the US embassy in Moscow to lift the diplomatic immunity of three of its staff suspected of stealing things from a Russian citizen, the Interfax news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying on Friday (Oct 8).

If the United States refused to lift their diplomatic immunity, the three employees would have to leave Russia immediately, the foreign ministry was cited as saying.

Earlier this week, the Russian foreign ministry said a US congressional proposal to expel 300 Russian diplomats from the United States would lead to the closure of US diplomatic facilities in Russia, if implemented.

US Democratic and Republican senators urged President Joe Biden on Tuesday to expel Russian diplomats if Moscow did not issue more visas for Americans to represent Washington in Russia.

Interfax, citing a source with Russia's law enforcement, reported earlier on Friday that three US citizens from the Moscow embassy under the influence of alcohol stole a backpack from a Russian national on Sept 18.

The Moscow police identified the three men as servicemen of the US Marine Corps aged 21 to 26, Interfax reported, citing police spokesman Vladimir Vasenin.

The US embassy did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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