2018-07-11 13:10:00

Attempts of Russians to gain influence on Mount Athos resulted in diplomatic scandal - media

Brussels, July 11, Interfax - The Greek government has decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban two from entering Greece, accusing them of interfering in the country's domestic affairs and illegal actions in relation to Greece's national security, the newspaper Kathimerini reported on Wednesday.

According to the newspaper, Athens accuses the Russian diplomats of "efforts to extract and circulate information, and to bribe Greek state operatives." It said Russia was trying "to intervene in a sensitive domestic issue like the agreement between Greece and FYROM over the name, and by doing so negatively affect Greece's role in the Balkans."

"The initiative follows numerous coordinated efforts to expand Russian influence in Greece including, among others, the activities of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society," the article said. "Through monetary rewards they are trying to influence municipalities, metropolitans in the Greek Orthodox hierarchy, and to gain influence in Mount Athos," it said.

"Despite this latest development, the same sources note that Greece continues, in line with its long-standing policy, to want good cooperative relations with Russia and to promote friendship between the two peoples, but they add that this can only be the case if both countries respect each other's sovereignty," the article said.