Putin Blacklists European Union Politicians In Response To Sanctions

PutinMoscow has released a blacklist of European Union politicians barred from Russia in response to EU sanctions over Crimea and Ukraine, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

“Russia yesterday handed over a list of people to diverse EU embassies who may not enter Russia any longer,” Rutte said at a weekly press conference, adding that two Dutch MPs and a Dutch MEP were on the list.

The list contains 89 names, according to a letter from Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders tweeted by Belgian MEP Mark Demesmaeker.

The letter, which was confirmed as authentic by the Dutch foreign ministry, said Moscow had asked for the list not to be made public.

Moscow drew up the list in response to the EU’s own sanctions and travel bans over Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year and its alleged involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict, Rutte said.

A spokeswoman for the EU diplomatic service in Brussels said that Russia had barred several European politicians from entry in recent months, but had so far refused to provide a list of those targeted.

“We take note that the Russian authorities have decided to share the list. We don’t have any other information on legal basis, criteria and process,” the spokeswoman said in an email statement.

Britain said Saturday there was “absolutely no justification” for a Russian travel blacklist which is thought to include nine Britons among 89 barred individuals.

The formerly confidential list includes past and serving parliamentarians and ministers who have been outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.

The Britons are thought to include MI5 spy chief Andrew Parker, the head of the armed forces Nick Houghton, former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

“There is absolutely no justification for this list. And the Russian authorities have not provided any legal basis for the list or for the names on it,” said a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office in London.

“If Russia’s intention is to put pressure on the EU to ease sanctions then this is not the way to do it. The onus is on Russia to fully implement the Minsk (ceasefire) agreement.

“The EU and member states are urgently seeking more transparency from the Russian authorities for this move.”

Rifkind, who served as foreign minister from 1995 to 1997 and was until recently head of parliament’s security and intelligence committee, said he was previously unaware that he had been blacklisted.

“I have read the reports in the media but not a word from the Russians!” he said via email.

Edward McMillan-Scott, a former vice-president of the European Parliament with responsibility for democracy and human rights, tweeted a link to the list on which he also features.

“I’m banned from Russia again first time since 1972! #45 on the hit list,” he commented.

Other Britons named include the former head of the MI6 foreign spy service, John Sawers, junior defence minister Philip Dunne, Northern Ireland minister and former junior defence minister Andrew Robathan, and Robert Walter, a former MP and member of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.



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