By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Russia: Russia has imposed entry bans on eight officials from EU states, including members of the European Parliament and the European Commission. The move comes after the EU hit Russian officials with sanctions in March.
Russia’s foreign ministry said those banned include Vera Jourova, Vice President for Values and Transparency at the Executive European Commission, David Sassoli, the President of the European Parliament, and Jacques Maire, a member of the French Delegation at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.
“The European Union continues to pursue its policy of illegitimate, unilateral restrictive measures against Russian citizens and organizations,” the ministry said in a statement.
It accused the EU of “openly and deliberately” undermining the independence of Russia’s domestic and foreign policy.
Sassoli, Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and European Council Chief Charles Michel said in a joint statement they condemned Russia’s “unacceptable” action in “the strongest possible terms” and said it showed Moscow had chosen a path of confrontation with the bloc.
“The EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response to the Russian authorities’ decision,” they said
Russia also banned three officials from the Baltic States Ivars Abolins, Chairman of Latvia’s National Electronic Media Council, Maris Baltins, Director of the Latvian State Language Center, and Ilmar Tomusk, Head of Estonia’s Language Inspectorate.
It also banned Jorg Raupach, Berlin’s public prosecutor, and Asa Scott of the Swedish Defense Research Agency.
Scott was among officials who said Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny had been poisoned in Russia with a Soviet-era nerve agent.
In March, the EU placed sanctions on two Russians accused of persecuting gay and lesbian people in Chechnya. The 27-member bloc last month also imposed sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin due to the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Russia did not provide an explanation for why the government targeted these specific individuals with entry bans. Sassoli and Jourova have criticized the Kremlin for its treatment of Navalny and disinformation campaigns online.
However, European officials have widely condemned the new sanctions from Russia.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s decision of the Russian authorities to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the Russian territory,” a statement from the heads of the European Council, Commission and Parliament said. “This action is unacceptable, lacks any legal justification and is entirely groundless. It targets the European Union directly, not only the individuals concerned.”
Sassoli said the Kremlin’s decision would not stop him from “defending human rights, freedom, and democracy.”
The EU’s relationship with Moscow has also been tense in recent in months due to Russia’s military buildup near the border of Ukraine.