Australia’s highest court dismissed Russia’s application for an injunction on Monday that would have prevented Moscow’s embassy being evicted from a site in Canberra.
In dismissing the application, High Court Justice Jayne Jagot described Russia’s challenge on constitutional grounds to a law terminating the lease as “weak” and “difficult to understand”.
Parliament passed emergency legislation on June 15 which terminated Russia’s lease on the largely empty block on security grounds because the new embassy would have been too close to Parliament House.
Russia’s lawyer Elliot Hyde had argued the Ambassador Alexey Pavlovsky would not have confidence in the integrity and security of a consular building already on the site if the embassy was not allowed to maintain possession until the challenge to the validity of the lease termination was decided.
Mr Elliot said a man who has been living on the site in a portable cabin at least since last week, described in the media as a Russian diplomat, was a security guard.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he welcomed the High Court decision and expected the Russians to leave the site.
“The court has made clear that there is no legal basis for a Russian presence to continue on the site at this time, and we expect the Russian Federation to act in accordance with the court’s ruling,” Mr Albanese told reporters.
The Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Previously,Russiahad accused Australia of “Russophobic hysteria” for cancelling the lease of the site in Canberra’s diplomatic quarter where Moscow wanted to build a new embassy.
The current Russian Embassy is in the Canberra suburb of Griffith and its operations are unaffected.