Post navigation

Prev: (04/29/20) | Next: (04/29/20)

Two years after their expulsion, Russian diplomats still hope to return to Seattle’s historic Samuel Hyde House

The Russian Consular Residence the day diplomats moved out in 2018 (Image: CHS)

The Russian Consular Residence the day diplomats moved out in 2018 (Image: CHS)

By Claudia Yaw, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Two years after the Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the country, tension lingers over Seattle’s historic Samuel Hyde House — the city landmark in Madison Park where Russian diplomats used to reside. The U.S. State Department owns the land underneath, but the Russians still claims the house as their own — and they want back in.

In a statement to Capitol Hill Seattle, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov lamented the closure of what was the only Russian consulate on the West Coast and the lockout at the E Madison residence.

“We presume that when the situation in our bilateral relations stabilizes, there will be a positive decision on returning this beautiful residence to its rightful owner as well as on reinstatement of Russian consular presence on the West Coast,” Antonov wrote.

CHS has agreed to post the complete letter from the ambassador as a condition for his comment. You can find it at the end of this post.

But the U.S. State Department doesn’t seem to have any immediate plans to do anything with the house.


HELP KEEP CHS 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' FOR EVERYONE -- SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.


“There has been no change in the status of the Russian Consulate property in Seattle since the property entered the custody of the Department of State in 2018,” a State Department official told Capitol Hill Seattle earlier this month.

The shuttering of the consulate came on the heels of an alleged Kremlin-backed nerve agent attack in the UK. In response, the U.S. joined several European nations in expelling Russian diplomats. Nationwide, the U.S. identified 60 diplomats as intelligence agents, according to a report from The Seattle Times.

U.S. officials said that a Russian outpost in the Seattle area may be the perfect location to spy on Boeing, Microsoft, and several military bases.

The move to purge the U.S. of intelligence agents was supported by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who told The Times, “the real question is why it takes so long to stand with our allies and take action against a government who continues to threaten and undermine our democracy.”

In late April 2018, CHS found a bizarre moving day underway with Russian diplomats and family members were on hand as movers loaded belongings, gear, and equipment into a small convoy of trucks waiting in the alley behind the E Madison residence. U.S. officials had given diplomats until April 24th that year to leave the Madison Park property that had been used as the residence for the Russian government’s Consulate General in Seattle since the U.S. Office of Foreign Missions acquired the property in what King County records say was a $1.1 million transaction in April 1994. On moving day, the Russian flag still flew above the historic mansion.

Although President Donald Trump ordered the shuttering of the consulate and the Madison Park consular residence at the cue of foreign allies and intelligence officials, he has also shown more willingness to work with Russia than almost any president in modern history, and has downplayed the Russian interference that intelligence officials said benefited his 2016 candidacy. However, with the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, it’s unlikely that action will be taken any time soon regarding the Consulate in Seattle or the Hyde House.

Until then, the neo-classical mansion nestled in residential Madison Park remains an empty reminder of the United States’ tenuous relationship with Russia, as well as the uncertainty of how the 2020 election will play out.

The full statement from Russian officials is below.


HELP KEEP CHS 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' FOR EVERYONE -- SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.


Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

3 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon
Jon
8 months ago

The Russian consulate in Seattle was a spy base for the Russian intelligence agencies (FSB, GRU, SVR). Seattle is a rich environment for both industrial espionage (AI, cloud, software) and military espionage (Naval Base Kitsap, JBLM, etc).

Putin
Putin
8 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Wow, you have a lot of shit in your head dude

JerSeattle
JerSeattle
8 months ago

We don’t want Russia back. They are hacking the USA elections. We shouldn’t be inviting thieves into our house while they are stealing from us.