Russia expels the European diplomats on Navalny issue
Diplomats from Germany, Sweden and Poland have been expelled from Russia for taking part in a protest rally against the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday (February 5) that the diplomats had taken part in an "illegal demonstration" on behalf of Navalny on January 23.
Sweden has denied participating in the protests, saying Russia's expulsion was "completely unfounded".
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, France and the European Union have condemned Russia's expulsion.
Alexei Navalny is a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The expulsion came hours after EU foreign policy Chief Josep Borrell met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. At that meeting, Joseph Borell also demanded the release of Navalny.
On January 23 and 31, thousands of people across Russia protested against the imprisonment of Navalny. Several thousand protesters were also arrested.
It is to be mentioned that an attempt was made to kill Navalny by applying nerve gas. He went into coma in that assassination attempt. He was taken to Germany. He recovered from the treatment there. He was finally arrested at the airport on January 18 as soon as he returned to the country.