MOSCOW — A state-owned Russian television station showed a video Thursday of what it claims was a brawl between an alleged U.S. spy and a Russian security guard at an entrance to the American Embassy in Moscow.
The video shown by the NTV channel follows a Washington Post column reporting that a U.S. diplomat was beaten up by a Russian guard outside the embassy.
NTV declined to clarify the source for its video, which shows a man exiting a taxi in an area resembling an embassy entrance and striding toward the doors without presenting identification. The guard bursts out of a sentry box and tackles the man, who is able to crawl through the entrance doors.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has identified the man as an undercover CIA agent and claimed that he was returning from an intelligence mission. It said the Russian guard acted within his duties when he tried to check the identification of a person entering the embassy.
In Washington, State Department Spokesman John Kirby said the man in question was an "an accredited U.S. diplomat." Kirby declined to comment on the incident, but expressed frustration over the treatment of U.S. diplomats in Russia in recent years.
"We are extremely troubled by the way our employees have been treated over the past couple of years and we've raised those concerns at the highest levels," Kirby told reporters. "Harassment and surveillance of our diplomatic personnel in Moscow by security personnel and by traffic police have increased significantly and we find this absolutely unacceptable."
U.S. officials told NBC News that the video was edited and so it doesn't show what happened at the end of the struggle. Once the diplomat gets across the line threshold — a "magic line" separating the U.S. embassy from Russian territory — the guard releases his grip on the diplomat and returns to the security shack, the officials said.