Moscow accuses ‘unprofessional’ Maltese media of anti-Russia hysteria

The Russian Foreign Ministry denied that any officials representing it had ever attempted to purchase tear gas in Malta

The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied claims that its diplomats had attempted to purchase tear gas in Malta, accusing the Maltese media of spreading misinformation.

Last month, Buzzfeed News cited sources claiming that “Russian diplomats” had tried to purchase tear gas canisters and riot gear in Malta, before the attempt was blocked by Maltese authorities on the suspicion that it was intended for Venezuela.

A senior government source told MaltaToday at the time that attempts to purchase the equipment were made at the same time that a request for a visit by a Russian warship was made by the embassy in Malta.

The Russian embassy had sought permission for a visit by the warship Severomorsk, a large anti-submarine guided-missile destroyer, to dock at Grand Harbour between 23 and 26 April but withdrew the request.

But the Russian embassy has also refused repeated requests in Malta for interviews to the media, to give its view on its position on recent events concerning aid to Venezuela.

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During the same period, the government also denied a request by Russia for two military aircraft to fly over Maltese airspace en route to Venezuela, a move that was described as “unfriendly” by the Russian government at the time.  

According to the Russian agency TASS, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Monday night, denying the involvement of at any embassy personnel.

“The Russian diplomatic mission in Valletta is working in strict compliance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Russian diplomats do not take part in any secret special operations,” the ministry said, adding that its embassy in Malta had not received any “official comments from the Maltese authorities”.

“The misinformation spread by the Maltese media is an example of unprofessionalism, an echo of the anti-Russia hysteria, the stoking of which does not serve the interests of the Russian-Maltese friendship.”   

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