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Tennis, sailing or spying? Luxury Russian connections in US shutdown

The compound in the vicinity of Centreville, Md.

(Fox 5)

Two luxury retreats in New York and Maryland, where Russian diplomats are gone for the next few decades, tennis, sailing and swimming were shut down by the Obama administration Friday in retaliation for Moscow’s cyber-meddling in the presidential election.

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The US said the two Cold War-era estates were used for intelligence activities.


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The gate of the compound in the vicinity of Glen Cove on New York’s Long Island.

(AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

About a half-hour before the noon deadline, caravan of diplomatic vehicles, some with boxes, links, both Russian connections under the watch of the U.S. Department of agents.

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The 45-acre Maryland retreat has brick mansion along the Corsica River in the picturesque East Coast region. Reports indicate that it was bought by the Soviet Union in 1972 and served as a refuge for the diplomats in the near of Washington.

In New York, Russian diplomatic staff were expelled from a Long Island home on the Gold Coast. The estate, once called Elmcroft, is in the town of Oyster Bay, and was purchased by the Soviets in 1952.

Russian U. N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters at U. N. headquarters, the Obama administration was to destroy a fun holiday for the children of Russian diplomats.

“I think it’s outrageous that they chose to throw our children,” he said. “They know very well that these two provisions are called, they are holiday facilities for our children and this is Christmas, and this is vacation time for our schools. This is the time when the kids go to these facilities. So we have access to them just during that vacation, for me, it was rather stupid.”

President Barack Obama announced the step on Thursday as part of the sanctions, which also the expulsion of 35 Russians that the U.S. said spies operating under diplomatic cover.

On Thursday, people who identified themselves as State Department employees asked reporters to leave when they go to the Maryland property.

“We live together with these people in a peaceful way,” said Alison Davis, who lives in the neighborhood. “It is actually their holiday home, but we see the diplomat tags drive all the time here, very friendly and helpful. We see them cycling, to say hello.”

Still, she said, local residents do not “really no interactions with them. They kind of keep to themselves.”

She said that the fabric has a private beach area and was typically used for a regatta during the end-of-the-summer Labor Day weekend.

An Associated Press story from 1992 about the extended property said at the time that the brick mansion was converted into 12 apartments and a dozen or so cottages, each with four apartments. In total, the compound is suitable for 40 families at a time, according to the report.

That report also said that the goods then boasted four floodlit tennis courts, a swimming pool and a football pitch and a camp was held for Russian children in the summer, and two weeks every Christmas.

Russia has two weekend retreats for the U. N. diplomats about an hour’s drive outside the City of New York, where the United Nations has its high-rise headquarters.

In addition to Elmcroft, Russian diplomats stay in another grand Gold Coast estate, the Killenworth mansion, not far from the city of Glen Cove. It was also bought during the Cold War.

Glen Cove Mayor Reggie Spinello said Friday that Killenworth not be closed by the government.

Both Long Island properties were the subject of a long running property-tax battle between the Russian government and local officials.

These disputes have now been resolved, and for the years Oyster Bay has waived parking and on the beach against Russia and U. N. diplomats as a gesture of good will.

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