Expulsion of diplomat ‘totally unwarranted’, Russian ambassador says

Ambassador denounces ‘political theatre’ and ‘cover-up’ over UK chemical attack

Russia’s ambassador to Ireland, Yury Filatov, leaves the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Russian ambassador to Ireland has described the decision by the Government to expel a Russian diplomat as “totally unwarranted, uncalled for, senseless and regrettable”.

At a press conference in the Russian embassy in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon, Yury Filatov said that while Ireland was well within its right to express solidarity with Great Britain, it should not have been done at the expense of Russia.

“We totally reject the underlying notion of the so-called Russian involvement in the Salisbury incident,” he said.

He said it was high time Britain stopped “misleading” its own public and the international community, said Mr Filatov.


“We we are talking here about a very serious chemical incident. It should be treated responsibly and be investigated thoroughly and openly,” he said.

“Instead all we are witnessing is complete cover-up and [a blame game]. Everybody understands the absurdity of the situation yet nonetheless the political theatre goes on.”

Mr Filatov refused to be drawn on the reason given to him for the expulsion. When asked was the expulsion an act of solidarity with the British government, or arising from the security assessment carried out by the Irish Government, he said that was a question for the Government to answer.

He said Russian diplomats had done nothing bad or illegal in Ireland and again reiterated his view the decision was arbitrary.

While saying the decision was not encouraging, Mr Filatov said he hoped the “enormous amount of goodwill” that existed between the Irish and Russian people would help overcome the damage to diplomatic relations in the long run.

Asked when the diplomat will have to leave Ireland, he said: “Soon.”


Separately, at the AGSI conference, asked how the Garda assessed the Russia presence in Ireland, Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin said the Garda needs to be “constantly vigilant”.

“Our role in this matter was to assess intelligence available to us through our intelligence services and make an assessment on that,” he said.

Asked if the Garda was simply rehashing British intelligence on the Russians he said: “I am not going to go into how the assessment was made. We have a considerable capacity built in this area.”

He also said historically we had our own issues in this country to deal with and we still have a focus in that area.

“In more recent times the situation has shifted to a more international setting,” he said.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times