Russia Suffers Legal Setback In Australian Embassy Standoff

Canberra, Australia: Russia’s bid to build a new embassy near Australia’s parliament suffered a legal blow on Monday, when the country’s highest court denied a request for temporary protection against eviction.

Australia has blocked Russia from building a new embassy in the capital Canberra — a stone’s throw from Parliament House — after intelligence agencies warned it could be used as a base to spy on lawmakers.

Russia’s embassy last week launched a last-minute injunction to temporarily hold on to the land, while despatching a mystery diplomat to squat on the site as the legal tussle played out.

Australia’s high court ruled on Monday morning that Russia had to temporarily vacate the site until the case returns to court for more detailed legal arguments, local media reported.

The Russian embassy said it had “no comments” on the ruling.

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Russia bought the lease to the land from the Australian government in 2008, and in 2011 was granted approval to build its new embassy there.

But the Australian government announced last week it was tearing up the lease.

Australia’s parliament passed laws specifically aimed at stopping a Russian embassy from being built on the site, which sits about 400 metres (440 yards) from the parliamentary precinct.

“The government has received very clear security advice as to the risk posed by a new Russian presence so close to Parliament House,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters.

“We are acting quickly to ensure the lease site does not become a formal diplomatic presence.”

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