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Consulate Closed, but Russia Demands Its Flag Still Fly

FILE - A Russian flag flies from the roof of the former Russian consul general's residence in Seattle, April 25, 2018. U.S. State Department officials said they respectfully lowered the Russia flag Saturday from the Russian consul-general residence proper

There’s a diplomatic fight brewing over the now-closed Russian consulate’s flag in Seattle.

U.S. State Department officials said they lowered Russia’s flag respectfully Saturday from the Russian consul-general residence. The mansion was vacated last month after the U.S. forced the consulate to close.

The Russian Embassy has demanded it be put back, accusing the U.S. of “unacceptable treatment” of their national symbol.

The Russians say it’s their property, though the Americans say that the Russia-owned house is built on U.S. government-owned land.

The State Department said it asked the Russians to take it down themselves because the house no longer serves as their consulate.

U.S. officials also noted that the U.S. took down its American flag with a brief ceremony when it was likewise forced to leave its St. Petersburg, Russia, consulate, saying in its statement: “Since the Russians chose not to treat their own flag with such respect, we have done so for them.”

The flag will be returned to the Russian Embassy, the State Department said.

The consulate was shut down in response to allegations that the Russian government tried to poison a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom.