European Greens call for debate on Russia travel blacklist
The Greens group in the European Parliament on Sunday called for a debate on a travel ban imposed by Russia on 89 European citizens -- many of them outspoken Kremlin critics.
The previously undisclosed list was revealed to European diplomats on Thursday, and includes past and serving parliamentarians and ministers who have openly criticised President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.
The Greens/EFA group described the blacklist as a "heavy blow for EU-Russia relations, even if its confirmation is not a surprise".
"The blacklist targets European politicians who have engaged in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the strengthening of civil society in Russia and those who have supported Ukraine. Vladimir Putin evidently interprets any honest criticism of his authoritarian course as a threat to his power," the group's president Rebecca Harms and MEP Heidi Hautala said in a joint statement.
Both women confirmed that they were on the list and called for a debate to be held in the European parliament on its "consequences".
"It would be wrong for the EU to react with a similar blacklist but the existing sanctions against targeted individuals are well founded. MEPs must determine if and how a dialogue with the Russian parliament is possible under these conditions," they added.
The EU representative in Moscow received a copy of the list, which has not been published, from the Russian foreign ministry on Thursday.
"The list of 89 citizens of the EU was sent to us on Thursday. The foreign ministry gave us the list and told us it was not for publication," EU delegation spokesman Soren Liborius told Russia's Interfax news agency on Saturday.
© 2015 AFP