US officials break into Russian consul’s residence in Seattle — source
US officials broke into the residence of Russia’s consul in Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday by defeating the entrance door lock, a source with Russia’s embassy to the United States told TASS.
According to the source, the US officials “broke the lock and entered” the residence.
They turned on light in the residence, he said, adding the Americans “have begun tampering with the lock” to the extension to the consulate.
Earlier, Nikolai Pukalov, the head of consular department of Russia’s embassy to the US, who is at the scene, told TASS that Russia views the US current steps as violation of both international law and US national legislation.
“Now, we are witnessing how the American side, in violation of all diplomatic and consular conventions as well as own legislation protecting the right to private property, is trying to enter our premises, which an attempt to defeat the entrance door lock to [the residence] is a proof,” Pukalov reported from the scene.
On Tuesday, Pukalov told TASS that Russian diplomats had already taken the archive and the most valuable equipment out of the building. Earlier, the US Administration had ordered to vacate the consulate general in Seattle, which is owned by Russia, until Tuesday evening.
“The convoy of the consulate general’s employees, along with the consular archive and most valuable equipment, has headed to the embassy in Washington,” Pukalov said. “Right now, the residence is locked, the flag remains at the flagstaff, the plaque also remains in place.”
According to Pukalov, Russian diplomats were planning to monitor the situation around the consulate in Seattle.
“Taking into account developments in San Francisco, we will be watching what is going to happen with this property,” he said.
The Russian diplomat spoke about US actions targeting Russia’s consulate in San Francisco, California, which had been closed on Washington’s order before.
In late March, the US administration announced it was expelling 48 Russian diplomats and 12 diplomats from Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in New York. It also closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The move came in the wake of the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain, and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.