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British Council office in Russia's St. Petersburg suspends work
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2008-01-17 14:52
The British Council's office in Russia's St. Petersburg suspended work on Wednesday after security officials interviewed its staff amid recent rows between Moscow and London.

Russian employees of the British Council's offices in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg offices had been summoned for interviews with Russian security officials, RIA news agency cited a spokeswoman of the Moscow-based British Council.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Russia's "intimidation" of British Council officials was "completely unacceptable."

Russia in December ordered the closure of regional offices of the British Council outside of Moscow since Jan. 1, 2008, citing illegal status and tax problems, an allegation rejected by the British side that re-opened the offices after new year holidays.

On Monday, Russia called the reopening of British Council offices a "deliberate provocation" and vowed to take new measures against the British cultural body while Britain stood firm on the issue that has further soured relations between the two countries.

Ties between Moscow and London have been bruised by the dispute over the poisoning case of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London.

Britain expelled four Russian diplomats in July due to Russia's refusal to extradite a main suspect in the case, Andrei Lugovoi, who was accused of murdering Litvinenko. Russia also expelled four British diplomats in response.

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