MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian court said on Thursday it had ordered the deportation of five employees of the United States’ University at Buffalo after finding them guilty of violating the terms of their visas.

The court in the city of Ryazan, 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Moscow, said the group had arrived in Russia on a multiple-entry tourist visa but had given a lecture at a local university.

“This activity did not correspond with their stated purpose for entering the Russian Federation,” the court said in a statement. The ruling was handed down on Tuesday, it said.

The court added that the five people had been fined and that they could appeal against their deportation at a regional court.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the University at Buffalo did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Moscow’s relations with Washington have soured in recent years over allegations of Russian interference in U.S. politics and disagreements over Ukraine and Syria.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Heinrich