- "This is slimy, greasy, grubby Russian politics. Nothing more. Nothing less," Whelan said.
- The case of Paul Whelan is one of the many sources of tension between Moscow and Washington.
- Russia also announced today the expulsion of two Czech diplomats.
A Moscow court today sentenced Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, to 16 years in prison on allegations of spying in Russia. The case has since caused tension in as far as Russia and American relations are concerned. Judge Andrei Suvorov, in his ruling, stated that the 50-year-old former military man will serve his sentence in a maximum-security prison.
Present at the hearing, the accused Whelan immediately announced that he would appeal the judgment. “This is slimy, greasy, grubby Russian politics. Nothing more. Nothing less,” Whelan said.
Paul Whelan, who also has Canadian and Irish nationality, was arrested in 2018 when he was allegedly spying in the country, as per information by the Russian security services, the FSB. He has since been remanded in custody and faced up to 18 years in prison. His family insists that he had travelled to Russia for a wedding, and the charges against him are false.
The case of Paul Whelan is one of the many sources of tension between Moscow and Washington. Russo-American relations have been exacerbated, in particular, by disputes over the Ukrainian conflict, the war in Syria, and the maintenance of strategic parity between the two great powers.
Moscow Expels Two Czech Diplomats in Retaliation to Prague
Meanwhile, Russia also announced today the expulsion of two Czech diplomats. It is an apparent revenge measure, to counter Prague’s expulsion of two Russian diplomats in early June, over an alleged plot to poison mayors.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Moscow, Vitezslav Pivonka, and notified him that “two employees of the Czech embassy in Moscow have been declared ‘persona non grata.’” The Ministry demanded that they and their family members leave Russia before Wednesday, June 17.
Earlier this month, the Czech government ordered two Russian diplomats to leave the country. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the secret services had discovered that one of the diplomats had spread false information about a Russian murderer who came to the country to kill Czech politicians.
The alleged murder plan was revealed in April, following a report by a local media outlet that the country’s intelligence services had information to the effect that a Russian who arrived in the Czech capital using a diplomatic passport was on a mission to poison Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib and Prague 6 district mayor Ondrej Kolar.
However, it later on emerged that the whole case was a result of infighting between staffers at the Russian Embassy in Prague. As a result, one of the staffers sent to intelligence service false information about a planned attack against Czech politicians. Russia was greatly angered by the move by the Czech Republic to expel its two diplomats, and vowed that it won’t be business as usual between the two states.
“By taking that unfriendly step, the Czech side has acted indecently and unworthily,” the Russian ministry said then. “The Czech authorities have inflicted serious damage to the Russian-Czech relations without any reason whatsoever. It will be necessary to respond to such provocations.”
Perhaps that’s is the primary reason behind today’s move by Moscow.