US Officials Reportedly Drugged at Russian Hotel Bar
PHOTO: St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
In a plot straight off of a Hollywood script, a pair of U.S. officials were reportedly drugged at an upscale hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia last year.
Citing a U.S. government official with knowledge of the situation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported the two low-level diplomats, identified as a man and a woman, were attending the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in November 2015 when they were slipped a date-rape-type drug, most likely at the hotel bar.
One of the officials was hospitalized as a result. However, efforts to get to the bottom of what happened were derailed at a nearby Western medical clinic when the electricity suddenly cut out, preventing blood and tissue samples from being taken, the official said.
When investigators later requested the unnamed hotel's timesheet records to see who was working at the time of the incident, hotel managers said there were none available for that period, according to the official.
Lacking sufficient evidence, the State Department's protest was met with indifference from Russian authorities.
"Without speaking to specific incidents, we are troubled by the way our employees have been treated over the past two years," an anonymous State Department official told RFE/RL. "We have raised, and will continue to raise, at the highest levels any incidents inconsistent with protections guaranteed by international law."
While the targets in this particular case were U.S. officials, travelers visiting Russia are also encouraged to remain alert and vigilant at bars and restaurants.
In fact, the U.S. State Department has issued a specific advisory on the threat.
"Never leave your drink unattended in a bar or club. Drink alcohol in moderation and stay in control," the advisory states. "Never agree to go to a bar or club with someone you have just met on the street. Criminals have drugged some travelers at bars, while others have taken strangers back to their lodgings, where they drugged, robbed, and/or assaulted them."
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