European politicians 'proud' to be on Russian blacklist
European politicians who discovered they were on a Russian travel blacklist said Saturday they were proud of being included and would continue speaking out against Russia's policy towards Ukraine.
"Being on this list does not change my commitment to the people of Ukraine," said Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a tweet.
"I have more to be proud of than to be afraid of!... Putin's list is a confirmation that I am doing right as a parliamentarian," the centre-right politician, married to Sweden's former foreign minister Carl Bildt, added.
She was among eight Swedes which the Nordic country's foreign ministry confirmed as being part on the list of 89 names banned from entering Russia -- mostly European politicians and officials.
Several names have been made public including Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Liberal group in the European Parliament and a former Belgian PM, and Sweden's former centre-right culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth.
Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, a staunch critic of Russia's policy towards Ukraine, also confirmed he was on the list and welcomed it.
"When I saw the other names (on the list), I found out I was in a very decent club. I consider this a reward," he was quoted as saying by news agency CTK.
Polish media reports suggest that as many as 18 Poles have been targeted, including the Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz and Deputy Minister of National Defence Robert Kupiecki.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte revealed Friday that the list had been handed to EU embassies and that he would let "Moscow know... in no uncertain terms" that the Netherlands rejected it as it was "not based on international law".
Russian authorities 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, he said.
"It is very striking behaviour which unfortunately does not improve Russia's image and we have asked for a clarification for this conduct," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem told news agency TT.
The German government said it expected Russia to publish the list along with an explanation of how to contest it legally.
© 2015 AFP