Russia's Ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov has accused the Irish Government of "playing games" and "pursuing its hidden agenda" in relation to its decision to block planning permission for a three-storey extension to the Russian embassy.
Over the weekend, the Irish Independent reported that during lockdown, outgoing minister for housing Eoghan Murphy quietly invoked a recent law, which allowed him to scrap planning permission for the extension deemed "likely to be harmful to the security and defence of the State and the State's relations with other states".
Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Yuriy Filatov described this as a "ridiculous accusation", saying "it was an open and transparent project from very beginning" and that that there is nothing secretive going on.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has granted permission for the project to go ahead, he said, adding that there was no secrecy at all about the project and that council had the blueprint plans.
Mr Filatov said the planned expansion was to include a consular section for Irish and Russian citizens, which would also include two new blocks of apartments.
He said he did not think there was anything in the project that "could even remotely be linked the issue of security, particularly to the security and defence of the Irish State".
The Russian Ambassador said that construction materials were not flown into Ireland before or after the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the Russian construction company, which is the main contractor for the Russian government, had hired many Irish employees to do the job here.
The Irish Government is well aware of the Russian view on this, Mr Filatov added, and said he hopes it can be handled seriously and competently.