One of the alleged Russian spies being expelled from the Russian Consulate in San Francisco as part of new U.S. sanctions is the consulate’s chef, according to the Consul General for Russia in San Francisco.
Consul General Sergey Petrov spoke briefly to reporters Friday at the consulate, located at 2790 Green St. in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, and said that four consulate employees were being sent back to Russia. With their families, a total of 11 people are being kicked out of the country, Petrov said.
President Barack Obama announced the steps against Russia on Thursday. The White House said that a total of 35 Russian government officials working in San Francisco and in Washington, D.C., had been declared perona non grata and were given 72 hours to leave the country.
Their removal is part of a set of sanctions against Russia for allegedly interfering with the U.S. election through computer hacking and harassing U.S. diplomats abroad.
Obama alleged in a statement on Thursday that the 35 government operatives being sent home are intelligence operatives, but Petrov denied that Friday, saying that one of the four employees in San Francisco was the consulate’s chef. Among the family members being kicked out is the chef’s 3-year-old son, he said.
Following the news conference, Petrov invited local members of the media to drink Champagne with him.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement that the Russian government would wait and see what the policies of President-elect Donald Trump were before taking any retaliatory action.
“We reserve the right to retaliate, but we will not sink to the level of this irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy,” Putin said.
Some reports have indicated that hacking efforts like the release of damaging emails by top Democrats were intended to bolster Trump’s chances against Hillary Clinton in the election.