Nordic ministers close Russian office

Council decides to leave Saint Petersburg after Russian authorities brand them as spies

The Nordic Council of Ministers (Nordisk Ministerråd) decided at a meeting in Greenland yesterday to close its Russian office after Russian authorities in January called employees at the location “foreign agents”.

“After being branded in such a way, there is no reason for us to continue our activities at this time,” Carsten Hansen, the minister for Nordic co-operation, told DR Nyheder. All of the group’s activities in northwest Russia have been suspended “indefinitely”.

The Saint Petersburg office has for many years worked on cultural co-operation between the Nordic countries and Russia and sought to strengthen ties between the countries' civilian populations.

“We have been here for 20 years, but now the Russian side has chosen to call us agents,” said Hansen.

Other offices remain open
The council stressed that co-operation with Russia is important for the Nordic countries, but it is unclear how that co-operation will continue in the future.

READ MORE: Nordic Council of Ministers targeted by Russian anti-spy law

The council has several offices in the Baltic countries and Russia, working to represent the Nordic countries in the different countries, build networks with national authorities and organisations, and find opportunities for co-operation. The Saint Petersburg office, which has about 25 employees, was opened in 1995.