(Text:  McCurry statement)  (465)

Washington -- A counselor in the Russian Embassy, identified as the chief

Russian intelligence official in Washington, has been declared persona non

grata by the United States and has been asked to leave the country within

seven days, the State Department announced.

The United States believes that "this individual was in a position to be

responsible for the activities associated" with the Aldrich Ames espionage

case, "and for that reason, we insisted to the Russian government that he

be held accountable," State Department Spokesman Michael McCurry said.

Following is the text of McCurry's statement:

(begin text)

As you have heard the president say today and the secretary say over the

last two days in congressional testimony, the United States strongly

supports political and economic reform in Russia, and we believe that it is

as important today as it has been for months.

Reform in Russia is in the interests of the United States.  It helps lower

the danger posed by nuclear weapons; it helps nurture a transformation in

Russia that will promote democracy, market economics, and peaceful

relations with Russia's neighbors.

But we have said all along that reform will not always be easy.  There will

be setbacks along the way.  And we know there are forces at work in Russia

1hich are inconsistent with reform.  We have to be realistic in our

expectations, steady in our support for reform, and unequivocal in our

opposition to those who are enemies of reform.

In this context of U.S. policy, we take developments like those in

associated with the case of Aldrich Ames very seriously.  We have discussed

our concerns directly with the Russian government in recent days.  The

secretary himself took the unusual step of calling in the Russian charge to

register our strongest protest.

Today at 1:45 p.m., Jim Collins, our senior coordinator for the newly

independent states, called the Russian Embassy's Charge d'Affaires Vladimir

Chkhikvishivili to the State Department.  At this meeting, Mr. Collins

informed the Russian charge that the United States of America has declared

a counselor in the Russian Embassy to be persona non grata.  We asked that

this individual leave the United States within seven days.  The individual

in question is the chief Russian intelligence official here in Washington,

the so-called resident of the SVRR.

Clearly, the United States believes that this individual was in a position

to be responsible for the activities associated with the Ames espionage

case, and for that reason, we insisted to the Russian government that he be

held accountable.

Mr. Collins indicated today that we do not rule taking additional action

against any other Russian diplomats who are subsequently implicated in the

Ames affair.

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