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Italy Expels a Soviet Diplomat and an Aeroflot Official

February 5, 1986

ROME (AP) _ Italy has ordered the expulsion of a Soviet diplomat and the Rome manager of the Soviet airline Aeroflot for allegedly engaging in espionage activities, Italian news agencies reported today.

The ANSA and AGI news agencies, quoting government sources, identified the two as Viktor Kopytin, a first secretary of the Soviet Embassy, and Andrei Chelukhin.

ANSA said Kopytin left Italy today.

The Soviet Embassy in Rome, in a communique issued later today, confirmed the expulsions and said the Italian action was made ″without any valid reason.″

A Foreign Ministry official said the Italian government does not confirm or deny the report.

An Aeroflot official told The Associated Press that Chelukhin was still in Rome, and that she knew nothing about the reported expulsion order.

ANSA quoted unidentified Foreign Ministry officials as saying the two were declared persona non grata for allegedly engaging in spying.

The reported ouster brings to 11 the number of Soviet diplomats and officials expelled from Italy on spying charges since 1970.

In a report to Parliament last month on intelligence activities, Craxi said Italian law enforcement authorities identified about 70 foreign spies operating in the country during a six-month period ending Nov. 22.

He gave no breakdown of the nationalities of the alleged spies or what the government intended to do about them.

Two days ago, France announced the expulsion of four Soviet diplomats. The Soviet Union immediately ordered four French diplomats to leave Moscow by the end of the week.

Update hourly