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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 10:40 GMT
Mystery surrounds Russian defection
UN building in New York
Mr Tretyakov was a diplomat with Russia's UN mission
A Russian diplomat to the United Nations in New York has defected to the United States.

US officials revealed on Tuesday that Sergei Tretyakov had defected in October last year, with his wife and other family members.

The reasons and the legal basis for his defection are not clear.

US State Department officials said they did not know if Mr Tretyakov had applied for asylum.

Middle-ranking

"A Russian diplomat left their mission last fall and the United States has told the Russians that he is safe and doing well but that it is up to him whether he decides to stay in the United States or not," a diplomatic source told the French news agency AFP.

The Russian UN Mission has confirmed that Mr Tretyakov served as a middle-ranking diplomat but would not make any further comment on his case.

There have been few defections since the end of the Cold War, prompting speculation that Mr Tretyakov may have information useful to the United States.

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