Australia's High Court Rejects Russia's Attempt To Stop Eviction Of Embassy
Australia's high court rejects Russia's attempt to stop eviction of embassy from a site in Canberra, the capital city. This decision came after a man who had been occupying the block in a portable cabin as an act of Russian defiance left the premises. High Court Justice Jayne Jagot characterized Russia's legal challenge as weak, stating that a serious question to be tried was difficult to identify.
The eviction of Russia's embassy from the site was initiated through emergency legislation passed by Parliament on June 15. The termination of the lease was based on security grounds, as the proposed location for the new embassy was deemed to be too close to Parliament House.
Government lawyer Tim Begbie suggested that Russia's application for the injunction was primarily aimed at protecting its own security and intelligence interests. Begbie further noted that Russia had failed to present a compelling case for constitutional invalidity.
Russia's lawyer, Elliot Hyde, argued that if the embassy was not allowed to maintain possession of the site until the challenge to the lease termination was decided, Ambassador Alexey Pavlovsky would lack confidence in the integrity and security of the existing consular building on the premises. Hyde claimed that the man living on the site, described as a Russian diplomat in the media, was a security guard protecting the compound.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his support for the High Court's decision and anticipated that Russia would comply by vacating the site. Albanese emphasized that there was no legal basis for Russia's presence to continue and referred to Russia's recent actions, including the invasion of Ukraine, as evidence of their lack of adherence to the law.
Russia Loses High Court Bid Over Australian Embassy Site | 10 News First
Following the court's ruling, the security guard left the fenced compound without making any statements to reporters. He was seen carrying bags and was picked up by a car with diplomatic license plates.
The Russian Embassy did not provide an immediate response to a request for comment. Russia had previously accused Australia of "Russophobic hysteria" for canceling the lease of the desired embassy site in Canberra's diplomatic quarter. However, the operations of the current Russian Embassy in the suburb of Griffith remain unaffected.
Don Rothwell, an international law expert from the Australian National University, noted that an examination of the published list of accredited Russian diplomats revealed that only three male diplomats could have been the individual guarding the embassy site.
Rothwell expressed doubts about the man having diplomatic immunity, which could have prevented Australian authorities from removing him from the premises.
With the security guard gone, Rothwell suggested that the police could secure the site to prevent any Russian diplomat from taking his place, thus avoiding any further legal challenges.
The legal dispute over the site marks a new low point in the strained relations between Russia and Australia, which has been one of Ukraine's most generous supporters outside of NATO. In a related development, Prime Minister Albanese announced an additional AU$110 million ($74 million) in aid to Ukraine, bringing Australia's total Ukraine aid to AU$790 million ($528 million) since Russia's invasion last year. The aid package includes military vehicles, tracked armored personnel carriers, ammunition, and humanitarian assistance for shelters, health services, clean water, and sanitation.
During the court hearing, Australia's lawyer suggested that the Kremlin might have been preoccupied with the short-lived rebellion in Russia by Wagner Group mercenaries, possibly causing a lack of response to the government's attempt to resolve the issue through a letter sent to Russia's lawyer, Elliot Hyde, on Saturday.
Tim Begbie acknowledged the distractions faced by Russia and refrained from criticizing Hyde for not responding to the letter.
Russia has had other things on its mind over the weekend.- Tim Begbie