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Thursday, 12 December 2019

US diplomats taken off train in Russian naval city: Reports

Reuters , Wednesday 16 Oct 2019
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Russian authorities removed three US diplomats from a train in the Arctic shipyard city of Severodvinsk, news agencies reported Wednesday, citing an "informed source".

The diplomats were on Monday taken off a train running between Severodvinsk and Nyonoksa, the site of a missile test blast that saw a radiation spike last August, reported Interfax news agency.

The trio, including a naval attache and a defence attache, were removed from the train in Severodvinsk station at around 6 pm (1500 GMT) after document checks and then released, Interfax said.

TASS news agency, citing a source from the law enforcement authorities, said the diplomats were suspected of breaching rules on foreigners visiting controlled zones.

Severodvinsk does not allow foreigners to visit freely, TASS noted.

A US embassy spokeswoman however told Russian news agencies that the diplomats were on an official trip and had informed the Russian defence ministry in the appropriate way.

Some Russian cities, particularly those involved in military and nuclear activities, only allow foreigners to visit with special permits.

Severodvinsk is an Arctic port with a naval shipyard that builds nuclear submarines.

Nearby Nyonoksa is a missile testing site on the coast of the White Sea. On August 8, an explosion there killed five people working for Russia's nuclear agency.

The blast briefly caused radiation levels in Severodvinsk to rise to more than 16 times background levels, Russian officials said, while denying any danger to public health.

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