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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Asks To Meet Defector

The Foreign Ministry has demanded a meeting with a diplomat said to have defected from Russia's United Nations mission last year and chided U.S. officials for refusing.

Sergei Tretyakov, a first secretary at the mission in New York, quietly defected with his wife and other family members and remained in the United States, officials said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Tretyakov "left his post in New York, along with his family, in unclear circumstances."

Yevgeny Voronin, deputy head of the ministry's press and information department, said Wednesday that U.S. officials had denied requests for Russian diplomats to visit Tretyakov. Russian officials wanted "to ascertain whether he or his family have been subjected to any duress and that nothing has happened to them," Voronin said.

He criticized U.S. officials for making the issue public, saying that while refusing to grant this "legitimate request, the American side has at the same time for unknown reasons decided to raise the issue with journalists." Russia "hoped that … our desire for a consular visit with Sergei Tretyakov will be immediately satisfied."

There was no immediate explanation about why a Russian diplomat would want to defect. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that there was "a very long-standing practice not to comment on matters of that kind."

Despite the end of the Cold War, the United States and Russia still spy on each other. In December 1999, Russia ordered the expulsion of U.S. diplomat Cheri Leberknight after accusing her of attempting to obtain secret military information from a Russian citizen.

Shortly afterward, the United States ordered Russian diplomat Stanislav Gusev to leave the country after he was allegedly caught eavesdropping on the State Department with the help of an electronic bug planted inside the building.