Russian diplomat: US violating law by searching residence

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Russian diplomat said Monday the United States is violating international law by searching a two-story brownstone building in San Francisco that was the consul's residence.

Nikolay Pukalov, head of the consular division at the Russian embassy in D.C., said at least 20 U.S. officials were coming in and out of the property Monday as two officials in uniform stood guard outside the house.

The U.S. State Department confirmed it conducted a walkthrough to make sure all residents had left the premises.

"The State Department will secure and maintain the properties in keeping with our responsibilities," it said.

Pukalov called the inspection an "intrusion" and a violation of international law and of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a charge the U.S. disputes.

"The Russian Federation has not given its consent for American authorities to enter the property," Pukalov said. "This intrusion is a gross violation of international law and a violation of the Vienna convention."

President Donald Trump's administration on Aug. 31 gave Moscow two days to shutter diplomatic outposts in San Francisco and other American cities and a month to vacate diplomatic residences in an ongoing diplomatic dispute.

The Trump's administration decision was in response to an order from Moscow to reduce the U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455.

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