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Daily Telegraph: Harassed ambassador is accused of assault

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
Last Updated: 1:41am GMT 16/12/2006

A Nationalist youth group with links to the Kremlin yesterday accused a senior British diplomat of assaulting one of its activists, the latest twist in a four-month campaign of harassment directed at Britain’s ambassador to Moscow.

The Nashi youth movement, created by one of President Vladimir Putin’s senior aides last year, claimed that the diplomat had delivered a “vicious” blow to activist Alexei Florya’s kidneys outside the Moscow offices of Royal Dutch Shell.

The embassy strongly denied the allegations. “This is total nonsense,” a spokesman said. “There is absolutely no truth in it whatsoever.”

The Foreign Office called on the Russian government last week to bring ambassador Anthony Brenton’s ordeal at the hands of Nashi to an end. Mr Brenton, who has linked the Kremlin to the campaign against him, says youths from the movement have trailed, heckled and behaved threateningly towards him ever since he delivered a speech at a conference held by opposition activists in July.

The ambassador and one of his senior diplomats were on their way to a meeting with Shell executives when they were accosted by two Nashi activists, repeating calls for the ambassador to apologise for attending the conference.

A witness said the diplomat, regarded as a mild man, approached Mr Florya but insisted that the two did not come into contact: “He went up to the Nashi photographer, bowed his head politely and said ‘goodbye’ twice,” he said. “There was at least a metre of space between them.”

Nashi vowed to step up its campaign after the alleged incident.
 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/16/wrussia116.xml

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