By Nikolaus von Twickel and Europe Online
April 18, 2013

Moscow (dpa) – Russia has expelled a senior Estonian diplomat, the Foreign Ministry of the small Baltic nation said on Thursday, a step which is likely to further raise tensions between the two nations.

Relations between the two countries have been strained over different interpretations of their common Soviet past. They reached a low point in 2007, when Estonia removed a monument to Soviet soldiers in the capital Tallin.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told the BNS news agency that Franek Persidski, a consul in St. Petersburg, was declared persona non grata by Russia and had returned home.

He added that Russia’s decision was in response to previous actions by the Estonian government, giving no further information.

Estonian media linked the Russian decision to Estonia’s decision in March to refuse entry visas to five Russian delegates wishing to participate in a youth conference in the Baltic country.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said at the time that this “unfriendly act” won’t go unnoticed. The ministry did not comment on the case Thursday.

Persidski did not respond to emailed requests for comment. He had told a dpa reporter earlier this month that he was returning to Estonia, however without mentioning any scandal.