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Plot thickens over Russian pantyhose probe

Plot thickens over Russian pantyhose probe

Published: 16 Dec 2009 12:36 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Dec 2009 12:36 GMT+01:00

The mystery surrounding why exactly a Swedish diplomat was selling smuggled pantyhose in a Moscow kiosk grew on Tuesday as the Swedish foreign ministry alleged the Russian media portrayal of the incident was a deliberate smear attempt.

“They’ve presented the story in a way which deliberately sullies the diplomat’s reputation,” Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson Anders Jörle told The Local.

The comments come following a report by Russia’s NTV television which shows the 35-year-old Swedish diplomat unloading cartons of nylon stockings from a car bearing diplomatic plates and standing behind the counter of a kiosk in Moscow where the hosiery was being sold.

The diplomat was subsequently arrested and taken in for questioning by Russian police, who accused the the Swede of selling stockings smuggled into Russia from Belarus.

During the interrogation, the diplomat admitted to involvement in the stocking trade.

Speaking with the TT news agency, a unnamed source from the foreign ministry described the 35-year-old as a capable diplomat.

The source went on to suggest that the Russians had elected to spread the story about the Swedish diplomat’s extracurricular activities in response to an incident last week during which the wife of a Russian diplomat in Stockholm was accused of shoplifting.

But Jörle denied that the foreign ministry was working from the theory that the supposedly biased Russian news reports were part of a diplomatic tit-for-tat.

“I’ve never said that there is a connection between the two incidents,” he said.

“They both happened, but I can’t say whether they’re connected.”

Jörle nevertheless confirmed the foreign ministry’s assertion that the Russian news report failed to provide a complete picture of the incident.

“They don’t give all the details which we have access to surrounding the incident, some of which aren’t very flattering for the Russians,” he said.

However, Jörle refused to elaborate on exactly what about the Swedish diplomat’s purveyance of pantyhose might make Russian officials uncomfortable.

“I’m not going to get into it,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Stockholm, Anatoly Kargapolov, confirmed that police were called to a Stockholm store last week after alarms went off when the wife of a Russian diplomat was leaving the shop.

“It was not a case of shoplifting,” Kargapolov told The Local.

He explained that the woman stayed in the store after the exit alarms sounded, but that store employees couldn’t understand her because she didn’t speak English or Swedish and that she didn’t have any diplomatic identification with her.

“The police were called, but our consular representative eventually showed up and the whole matter was cleared up at the store,” he said.

“It would be a mistake to connect the two incidents,” he added, emphasizing that the Russian embassy would rather move forward than dwell on the alleged misdeeds of the Swedish diplomat.

“We regret that this happened. What’s most important for us is not to have this incident affect our bilateral relations,” he said.

According to Jörle, the Swedish foreign ministry plans to investigate the incident, but added that no further disciplinary action is currently planned for the 35-year-old diplomat.

He also had little to say as to why the diplomat was involved in selling stockings in the first place.

“That’s a good question,” he said.

“All I can say is that, from what we understand, it isn’t something that can earn a person much money.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:01 December 16, 2009 by Kaethar
Is it April 1st already? This story has got to be a joke. :D
14:16 December 16, 2009 by Lea
Yeah, life in Moscow ain't cheap. Every cent matters....

Just how much, I wonder, does this diplomat get in the yearly income from the Foreign Office?
16:07 December 16, 2009 by peropaco
Better this than being accused of peddling organs from dead Belarusians kids. Talk about smear campaign. While most doplomat are involved in spying, Sweden send theirs to sell pantyhose...How low can it get!
06:00 December 17, 2009 by crunchy2k
I bet he was selling pantyhose just to meet chicks........LOL..... And do a little information gathering from working women.
11:51 December 17, 2009 by DavidtheNorseman
Ah the deadly hoisery trade! Soon Russian women everywhere will have warmer legs. They will get used to this decadent Western luxury. The Russian Empire will topple!

Surely this is some part of a Swedish plot to regain Finland!

(They won't be the first or last person to throw away a good career for a few extra euros.....Young people take note.)
12:03 December 17, 2009 by xenu
Pantyhose! really? Fetish, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh
12:13 December 17, 2009 by salalah
Plot thickens - sounds like a novel. Russian diplomat wife tries to steal stockings... maybe???

Feels like we are back in the communist era when women in Russia did anything to get a pair and a pair on the streets was worth more than gold. :)
15:54 December 17, 2009 by wenddiver
Leave the guy alone. The hell with all these Russian laws. Russians have went around the world giving weapons to ever psycho in the world, but their police prevent the distrution of panty hose????

Make the man the Swedish Consulate in Miami, Florida where smuggling experience will be considered a plus with the locals.
22:19 December 17, 2009 by wxman
"The mystery surrounding why exactly a Swedish diplomat was selling smuggled pantyhose in a Moscow kiosk." I'm no crime sleuth, but let me take a stab at it - - for the money??
15:54 December 18, 2009 by DStrope
were they "used" pantyhose or new ones? really who cares!!! Russia get with the program, women wear pantyhose!!!!!
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