In ‘serious diplomatic incident,’ Russians strip-search Israeli minister’s security personnel

Tourism minister, on official visit, has his objections overruled; Jerusalem protests to Moscow

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Stas Misezhnikov (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Stas Misezhnikov (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A “serious diplomatic incident” took place in Russia on Friday when Russian officials strip-searched Israeli security personnel accompanying an Israeli minister on an official visit, the Foreign Ministry stated Friday.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov was asked to represent the Israeli government at an economic conference in Nizhny Novgorod, about 420 kilometers east of Moscow. When he arrived on Friday at the hotel where the event was held, officials of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) approached the security guards accompanying Misezhnikov and asked to check them to ascertain they were unarmed, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement.

“Despite the minister’s explanations that this was a ministerial delegation, and that the guards are unarmed, the Russians forced the Israeli security guards to accompany them to a side room, where they forced them to undress for inspection,” Palmor stated.

The Israeli Embassy in Moscow immediately turned to the Russian Foreign Ministry in “vehement protest” and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem filed a “vigorous protest” with Russia’s ambassador in Israel, Palmor added.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who is currently in New York as part of the Israeli delegation to the UN General Assembly, is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday, and will voice strong protest over the incident, Palmor said.

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