Britain says 'no justification' for Russian blacklist
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 told AFP 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.
© 2015 AFP