Russia Summons French Ambassador Over Minister's 'Unacceptable' Comments

The Russian flag waves in the wind on the rooftop of the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, California, US, September 2, 2017. (Reuters)
The Russian flag waves in the wind on the rooftop of the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, California, US, September 2, 2017. (Reuters)
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Russia Summons French Ambassador Over Minister's 'Unacceptable' Comments

The Russian flag waves in the wind on the rooftop of the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, California, US, September 2, 2017. (Reuters)
The Russian flag waves in the wind on the rooftop of the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, California, US, September 2, 2017. (Reuters)

Russia on Friday summoned the French ambassador to Moscow following "unacceptable" comments by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Sejourne on Monday said that France had no interest in talking to the Kremlin, a few days after a telephone conversation between Russian and French defense ministers ended in divergent accounts.

French ambassador Pierre Levy "was informed about the unacceptable character of such statements, which have nothing to do with reality," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, denouncing a "deliberate act" that "aimed to undermine the possibility of any dialogue between the two countries".

A French diplomatic source told AFP on Friday: "The Russian ministry, as usual, does not accept that we correct its lies.

"The minister recalled the reality of the exchanges and the Russian authorities' attempt at manipulation following the call from the armed forces minister."

It is the latest in series of spats between the two countries, whose relations have deteriorated since the start of the year, against the backdrop of the prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

After a conversation between the two countries' defence ministers on April 3, Russia said it "hoped" that the French secret services were not involved in the Moscow concert hall attack claimed by Islamic State group, which killed 144 people on March 22.

France had initiated the meeting in a bid to pass on "useful information" to Russia about the attack.

French president Emmanuel Macron reacted angrily to the Russian suggestion, denouncing "threatening" comments.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu told television station LCI late Friday that the anti-terrorist cooperation between the two countries "is not suspended" but "it is not working in the partnership manner that it should."

He said France would continue to speak with Russia "when it is useful. It is called defending the interests of France."

In January, Russia claimed to have killed 60 French "mercenaries" in Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine, while Paris denounced "a coordinated manoeuvre" of disinformation emanating from Moscow.

Russia also announced that it had summoned Slovenian ambassador Darja Bavdaz Kuret on Friday to notify her of the expulsion of a Slovenian diplomat "in return" for a similar decision taken by Ljubljana in March against a Russian representative.

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had done the same with Austrian ambassador Werner Almhofer following the expulsion of two Russian diplomats by Vienna. Moscow expelled an Austrian diplomat in response.



California Academic Workers Strike in Support of Pro-Palestinian Protests

Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
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California Academic Workers Strike in Support of Pro-Palestinian Protests

Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)

Discord from last month's mob attack on pro-Palestinian student activists encamped at the University of California, Los Angeles, flared again on Tuesday as academic workers staged a strike on campus protesting UCLA's response to the violence, Reuters said.
Unionized academic researchers, graduate teaching assistants and post-doctoral scholars at UCLA walked off the job over what they regard as unfair labor practices in the university's handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in recent weeks, organizers said.
They were joined by fellow academic workers at two other University of California campuses - UC Davis near Sacramento, and UC Santa Cruz, where the protest strike began on May 20.
The strikers are demanding amnesty for grad students and other academic workers who were arrested or face discipline for their involvement in the protests, which union leaders say were peaceful except when counter-demonstrators and other instigators were allowed to provoke unrest.
The state Public Employee Relations Board ordered the University of California and the strikers to take part in mediated talks. A representative for the strikers said the parties met once over the weekend.
The strike was organized by the United Auto Workers union Local 4811, which represents some 48,000 non-tenured academic employees total across 10 University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The UAW local includes about 6,400 academic workers at UCLA, 5,700 at Davis and about 2,000 at Santa Cruz. A union representative said thousands were withholding their work as of Monday. Several hundred attended a march and midday rally on the UCLA campus on Tuesday.
The expanding work stoppage marks the first union-backed protest in solidarity with the recent wave of student-led demonstrations on dozens of US campuses against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Union leaders said a major impetus for the strike was the arrest of 210 people, including campus-employed grad students, at the scene of a Palestinian solidarity protest camp torn down by police at UCLA on May 2.
About 24 hours earlier, on the night of April 30-May 1, masked assailants armed with sticks and clubs attacked the encampment and its occupants, sparking a bloody clash that went on for at least three hours before police moved in.
The university has since reassigned the chief of the campus police department and opened an investigation into law enforcement's reaction to the violence.
Last week, three weeks after the melee, campus police announced their first, and so far only, arrest of someone accused of taking part in the attack - a man they say was seen in video footage beating victims with a wooden pole.
Separately on Tuesday in Detroit, Wayne State University suspended in-person classes and directed staff to work remotely to avoid any disruptions that might be posed by a pro-Palestinian encampment there.
US Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat of Palestinian descent, joined those protests on Monday and Tuesday.