MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian television on Thursday broadcast video footage of what it said was a Russian police officer and a U.S. diplomat wrestling on the steps of the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
Reports of the incident emerged late last month. The Washington Post newspaper, citing U.S. diplomats, said an embassy employee had been attacked on June 6 by the officer. Russian officials said the diplomat had attacked the policeman.
The night time footage, from what appeared to be a closed circuit TV camera across the street from a side entrance into the embassy compound, showed a yellow taxi pulling up and a man jumping out of the front passenger door.
He moved purposefully toward the entrance, but after he had taken about three steps the door of a police sentry box in front of the entrance swung open.
A man in police uniform then darted out, grabbed the man, and wrestled him to the floor about two metres (yards) from the door leading into the embassy building, according to footage broadcast by NTV. (bit.ly/29nmt3r)
The footage then showed the police officer lying on top of the other man, who was on his back, pinning him to the floor. The man managed to wriggle his way toward the door and get it open, at which point the footage ended.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on June 7 to raise concern about “an incident involving an accredited U.S. diplomat that occurred outside our embassy in Moscow”.
While Kirby said he would not speak to the specifics of a particular incident, he said the U.S. was “extremely troubled by the way our employees have been treated over the past couple of years”.
A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said the police officer had wanted to check the man’s documents to establish he was not a threat to embassy security, but was elbowed in the face when he tried to challenge him. She said the embassy employee was a CIA agent operating under diplomatic cover.
The United States has accused Russia of a campaign of harassment against its diplomats in Moscow, while Russia has accused Washington of meting out similar treatment to Russian diplomats based in the United States.
Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Christian Lowe; additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Grant McCool