Australian court dismisses Russia bid to stop embassy eviction

An Australian court has rejected a Russian claim to stop its eviction from a site in Canberra where it has been blocked from building its new embassy.

The government introduced new legislation on June 15 to end the Russian lease on the land, which is about 400 metres (437 yards) from Parliament House, after intelligence agencies warned the location was a risk to national security.Russia, which took out the lease in 2008 but had not completed any buildings there, then launched a last-ditch legal bid to try and stop its eviction, and a man was seen squatting at the site.

On Monday, High Court Justice Jayne Jagot described Russia’s challenge on constitutional grounds to the law terminating the lease as “weak” and “difficult to understand”.

The squatter, who Russia’s lawyer Elliot Hyde said was a security guard, was seen leaving the fenced-off compound soon afterwards, and was then driven away in a vehicle with diplomatic licence plates.

“The court has made clear that there is no legal basis for a Russian presence to continue on the site at this time,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters.“We expect the Russian Federation to act in accordance with the court’s ruling.”

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

The Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to the decision.

Previously, Russia has accused Australia of “Russophobic hysteria” for cancelling the lease. The current Russian embassy is the former Soviet embassy in the Canberra suburb of Griffith and its operations are unaffected.

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