ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — U.S. consulate staff in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, were preparing to wind up operations after the Russian government ordered the consulate’s closure.
Russia announced the expulsion of more than 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, in response to mass expulsions of Russian diplomats by Western countries over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that “Russia didn’t start any diplomatic wars” and had to respond. Peskov said Russia was open to improving ties with all countries including the U.S.
Russia also ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg in response to the U.S. announcement to shut the Russian consulate in Seattle.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Large crowds of flag-waving Palestinian protesters marched toward the Gaza border fence with Israel, some of them throwing stones and drawing Israeli fire that officials said killed at least five people.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 500 Palestinians were hurt by live fire, rubber-coated steel pellets or tear gas fired by Israeli forces at several locations along the fence but did not provide the breakdown.
The protests had begun as mass sit-ins organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers but quickly spun out of control.
Israel’s military said thousands of Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw stones at forces stationed on the border and that troops opened fire at the “main instigators.”
PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic extradited a Russian man to the U.S. to face charges of hacking computers at LinkedIn, Dropbox and other American companies, a police official said.
Yevgeniy Nikulin was flown to the U.S. overnight, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Tereza Schejbalova said.
Nikulin denies he’s a hacker. His defense attorney claimed his case is politically motivated in the U.S.
The decision by Justice Minister Robert Pelikan was announced just minutes after the country’s Constitutional Court released a statement that it rejected a last-minute appeal from the Nikulin as “groundless.”