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On Monday, the nation’s top court rejected a request for interim protection against eviction, dealing a legal blow to Russia’s plans to construct a new embassy close to Australia’s parliament.
Australia has prevented Russia from establishing a new embassy in Canberra, the nation’s capital and a short distance from Parliament House, after intelligence officials expressed concern that it would be used as a base to spy on politicians.
The Russian embassy last week filed an emergency injunction to keep the property in its possession while also sending a covert diplomat to occupy the location while the legal dispute was being resolved.
Russia must leave the area temporarily until the matter is brought back before the court for more thorough legal arguments, the Australia’s high court ordered on Monday morning, according to local media.
According to the Russian embassy, it had “no comments” over the decision.
The Australian government sold Russia a lease on the property in 2008, and in 2011 Russia received authorisation to erect a new embassy there.
However, the Australian government revealed last week that it was cancelling the lease.
The property, which is around 400 metres (440 yards) from the parliamentary area, was the subject of rules created by Australia’s parliament with the express purpose of preventing the construction of a Russian embassy there.
The risk posed by a new Russian presence so near to Parliament House has been made very obvious to the government, according to very clear security advice, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters.
To prevent the leasing site from becoming an official diplomatic presence, “we are moving swiftly.”