MOSCOW — Russia’s foreign ministry says police stopped three American diplomats trying to enter an area of northern Russia where a secrecy-shrouded explosion at a navy range caused a brief spike in radioactivity levels.
Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that the Americans, described as military diplomats, were not held in custody after they were stopped a day earlier.
The Aug. 8 explosion at the Russian navy's range in Nyonoksa on the White Sea killed two servicemen and five nuclear engineers and injured six others.
She told a briefing that the Americans had received permission to travel to the city of Arkhangelsk, but instead went to Severodvinsk, 30 kilometers (20 miles) to the west, where they boarded a commuter train to a community near the naval range.
Police informed them they were “in a zone of restricted visitation,” she said.
Two servicemen and five nuclear engineers were reported killed in the Aug. 8 explosion.
Russian officials' changing and contradictory accounts of the incident drew comparisons to Soviet attempts to cover up the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the world's worst nuclear disaster.