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Russian foreign ministry accuses unnamed Swedish diplomat of attending unauthorized pro-Navalny rally, Stockholm denies allegation

Russian foreign ministry accuses unnamed Swedish diplomat of attending unauthorized pro-Navalny rally, Stockholm denies allegation
A Swedish diplomat attended a protest in support of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. That's according to Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, who said that foreign embassy employees shouldn't participate in protests.

“It is the duty of diplomats to follow what is going on, but it should not be done as a political action and not to participate in rallies,” Maria Zakharova told TV channel Dozhd on Tuesday night, adding that: “By the way, a Swedish diplomat participated in the rallies.”

She didn't specify exactly which demonstration the diplomat had attended, but revealed that the subject had been raised by Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde.

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The story was further complicated on Tuesday night, when Russian news channel REN TV, citing reports from social networks, published a video claiming to show an unnamed man from the Swedish embassy being detained by cops.

In a comment to RT, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs strongly denied claims that their diplomat was involved in the recent protests.

"The Swedish diplomat observed the demonstrations in St. Petersburg, which is standard diplomatic procedure," the statement concluded.

On Wednesday afternoon, the story took yet another twist, when news agency TASS claimed that an unnamed member of the Swedish embassy staff had taken part in protests in Saint Petersburg last month, citing a source.

"The Swedish side is well aware that its diplomat participated in an illegal rally on Nevsky Prospekt on January 23," the source said.

Russia has seen two planned large-scale unauthorized protests in support of the imprisoned Navalny. On January 23, the date of the first protest, thousands of demonstrators turned up throughout the country, in over 100 cities. The ensuing protests saw a general decrease in numbers but an increase in violence and arrests, with videos on social media depicting the police allegedly using electric batons.

Following Navalny's sentencing on Tuesday night, his supporters took to the streets once again to rally against his prison term.

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