CAIRO, Egypt -- Soviet Ambassador Vladimir Polyakov, six of his Embassy officials and two Soviet journalists left for Moscow today in compliance with government expulsion orders.
The departure left the Russian Embassy with about 30 diplomats, the lowest number since the mid-1950s when the Soviet Union began supplying Egypt with arms and expanding its presence in the country.
Polyakov and the others left aboard a special Soviet plane that also carried 100 Soviet civilian experts and dependents, Cairo airport officials said.
Only Foreign Ministry protocol officials, security officers and a few Soviet diplomats were on hand at the airport for the departure.
The civilian experts were the first 300 people whose contracts were terminated by the government. They had been working on industrial, agricultural and power projects.
Egypt's Cabinet, charging the Soviets with plotting against President Anwar Sadat's government and instigating religious strife, Tuesday ordered Polyakov, the six Soviet Embassy officials and two Russian journalists to leave the country within 48 hours.
Egypt also abolished military attache offices in the respective capitals and ordered the expulsion of Hungarian Embassy's first secretary, Igaz Sandor, on charges of plotting against the Sadat government.
The government decreed a cutback in the size of the Soviet diplomatic mission in Cairo to make it equal to that of its Egyptian counterpart in Moscow.
The action brought relations between Cairo and Moscow to their lowest point since Sadat unceremoniously expelled 17,000 soviet military personnel in July 1972 to protest the Soviets' refusal to meet all his arms requests.
The Soviets clamped a total embargo on arms to Egypt in 1974 following Sadat's rapprochement with the United States and peace moves with Israel in the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Sadat unilaterally abrogated a friendship treaty with the Soviets in 1976, 10 years ahead of its expiration date.
Polyakov was accredited to Cairo in 1974 and previously worked in Egypt under other ambassadors. He was considered one of Moscow's best-informed men on Egyptian affairs.