Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov Photo by Eyal Toueg
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A serious diplomatic incident occurred on Friday, when Russian's internal security agency, the FSB, detained the bodyguards of Israel's Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov during an official visit, and strip-searched them.

Foreign Ministry Spokespam Yigal Palmor said in a statement that Israel has protested strongly against the incident to the Russian government.

At the weekend a large economic conference was held in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. The Deputy Prime Minister of Russia asked Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to send a senior Israeli representative to the conference.  Lieberman asked the Tourism Minister Misezhnikov to attend.

As with any visit of a minister abroad, Misezhnikov was escorted by a number of bodyguards.

On Friday, when the minister and his security personnel arrived at the hotel where the conference was being held, a number of FSB agents approached and detained them. The FSB -  the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation -  is the Russian equivalent to Israel's Shin Bet Security services.

The Russian security officials asked Misezhnikov's security detail to accompany them for an inspection in order to make sure that they were not armed. Misezhnikov tried to explain that this was an official Israeli delegation, but the Russian security officials ignored him and took the bodyguards to a side room where they forced them to remove their clothes for inspection.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Friday that the Israeli embassy in Moscow immediately submitted a strong protest to the Russian Foreign Ministry, and later in Jerusalem the Foreign Ministry presented a strongly-worded protest to the Russian Ambassador in Israel, Sergey Yakovlev. Lieberman will meet later on Friday in New York with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and will address the incident with him.