Russian diplomat squatting on axed Embassy site in Australia

10:44 30.06.2023 •

The Australian flag on the Parliament House building beyond an under construction structure on the grounds of a proposed new Russian embassy in Canberra.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

An unidentified Russian diplomat has been living for several days in a portable building on the land previously held by Moscow, - Bloomberg reported. He has been ordering food deliveries to the site while being watched by Australian Federal Police, the newspaper said. The man couldn’t be evicted as he holds diplomatic immunity.

This is a case.

Australia on June 15 canceled Russia's lease to build a new embassy citing national security, drawing criticism from the Kremlin, which said the move by Canberra reflected its anti-Russian sentiment.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that he was canceling Russia’s lease because of security risks arising from the site’s proximity to Parliament. The government received bipartisan support for legislation to terminate the lease after a court rejected a similar move by local authorities.

A spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil confirmed the Russian government had informed them it would be challenging the legislation in Australia’s High Court “on constitutional grounds.”

Albanese told reporters that he wasn’t worried about the current standoff over the alleged squatter. “The national security threat that was represented by a Russian embassy on the site is not the same as some bloke standing on a blade of grass,” he said.

Albanese said the government expected “Russia would not be happy with our response” and processes were underway to “formalize possession” of the Canberra site.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on June 15 that Australia was engaging in “Russophobic hysteria” in canceling the lease, the state-run TASS news agency reported, adding there may be reciprocal actions taken by Moscow.

A Russian diplomat (photo) squatting on land set aside for a future Russian embassy in Australia has left after a court ruled that Moscow had no claim to the site near the national parliament in Canberra.

A Russian diplomat subsequently moved into a temporary building on the site and police were unable to arrest him because he had diplomatic immunity, local media reported.

The High Court rejected Moscow's appeal to hold onto the site and shortly afterwards the squatter left the site, SBS News reported.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government welcomed the High Court's decision, adding: "We expect the Russian Federation to act in accordance with the court's ruling."…

Since 1942, when diplomatic relations were established in the framework of the alliance in World War II, the USSR Embassy in Australia has been located in a small two-story colonial mansion of the beginning of the last century.

About 15 years ago, due to the fact that the Russian embassy in Canberra was given the functions of an Embassy in a number of island states (Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru, Samoa, Tuvalu, Fiji), there was not enough space. The Consular section of the Embassy was completely under repair and was open to visitors just last week.

In 2008, the Embassy rented a small wasteland a little closer to the center of the Australian capital for 99 years, and in 2011 received official permission to build a new building  of the Embassy and Consulate. For a number of reasons, the construction of the main building there has not yet begun, and today this wasteland looks like a neglected summer cottage in the far suburbs.

This was partly due to the mass expulsions of Russian diplomats from Australia in recent years. The number of both diplomats and technical personnel has been reduced to a dangerous minimum, hindering the full-fledged work of foreign agencies…


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