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Russia denies pressuring U.S. diplomats, despite State Department claims

"Across Mission Russia, employees face intensified pressure by the Russian security services at a level not seen since the days of the Cold War," the U.S. Department of State's Office of the Inspector reported during a review of incidents in 2013.

By
JC Finley
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has raised concerns about the treatment of U.S. diplomats posted to Russia with Russian officials, the State Department said Oct. 27, 2014. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has raised concerns about the treatment of U.S. diplomats posted to Russia with Russian officials, the State Department said Oct. 27, 2014. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

MOSCOW, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Russia has denied claims raised in a report by ABC News that U.S. diplomats in Russia faced "Cold War-era harassment."

"Clearly orchestrated by the U.S. Department of State, the info leak by the ABC television claiming that the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Russia has been receiving threats and has become a target of 'psychological pressure' is unfounded and far from reality," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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The State Department's Office of the Inspector General, however, did not find the allegations unfounded. Rather, it reported in 2013 that "Across Mission Russia, employees face intensified pressure by the Russian security services at a level not seen since the days of the Cold War."

That pressure has included slashed tires, a cyberattack on a personal email account, and home invasions, according to ABC.

Both the State Department and U.S. Embassy Moscow confirmed high-level discussions have been held to address theses incidents.

Will Stevens, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Moscow, told ABC, "Embassy and State Department officials have discussed issues of harassment of American staff with various interlocutors within the Russian government."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed to reporters Monday that Secretary John Kerry has participated in these discussions.

"We have raised and will continue to raise at the highest level any incidents inconsistent with protections guaranteed by international law. Obviously, we wouldn't be doing that if we didn't have concerns. ... And as you know, but it's worth repeating, the responsibility of the safety and well-being of our personnel and their dependents is one we take very seriously."

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