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Austria expels Russian diplomat amid 'spy' reports, Moscow expels Austrian envoy in response

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The Russian embassy in Vienna said it was 'outraged' by the decision.
The Russian embassy in Vienna said it was 'outraged' by the decision.   -   Copyright  Ronald Zak/AP
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Austria said on Monday it is expelling a Russian diplomat for violating envoy privileges, causing Russia to expel an Austrian diplomat in response.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said the Russian envoy is being ordered to leave as his behaviour was not compatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Austria Press Agency reported.

No further details on the reasons for the expulsion were given.

Austria's Kronen Zeitung newspaper reported the Russian diplomat was allegedly involved in economic espionage at a technology firm for years and was aided by an Austrian citizen.

The daily said he has until September 1 to leave.

Austrian diplomat expelled in response

The Russian Embassy said on its website it was “appalled by the unfounded decision of the Austrian authorities, which is damaging to constructive Russian-Austrian relations”.

Within hours of Vienna's announcement, Russia declared an Austrian diplomat as non grata after summoning Austrian Ambassador Johannes Aigner on Monday.

The move comes two months after a retired Austrian army colonel was sentenced to three years in prison for spying for Russia in a separate case.

Less than a week ago, Norway also expelled a Russian diplomat linked to an unrelated case of a man jailed on accusations of spying for Russia.