31 May 2015

Russia blacklist: EU criticises ‘unjustified’ travel ban

Nick Clegg is among 89 European Union politicians and other senior figures who have been banned from entering Russia, according to a confidential Russian “stop list”.

The list, which the Russian foreign ministry compiled and handed to a European Union delegation in Moscow this week, includes outspoken critics of Russia as well as military and intelligence officials. A similar list exists for US citizens, a ministry official told Russian media.

Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Defence Minister Philip Dunne and former defence minister Andrew Robathan are also understood to be among those barred from the country.

The Foreign Office strongly condemned the Russian action saying there was “absolutely no justification” for the list which appears to have been drawn up in response to EU sanctions against Moscow.

Those who are reportedly on the list are:

  • Uwe Corsepius – current secretary general of the European Union council in Brussels
  • Bruno Le Roux – the leader of President Francois Hollande’s Socialists in parliament
  • Nick Clegg – former deputy prime minister
  • Guy Verhofstadt – former Belgian premier
  • Karl-Georg Wellmann – German lawmaker
  • Karel Schwarzenberg – former Czech foreign minister
  • Anna Maria Corazza Bildt – Swedish MEP
  • Andrew Parker – MI5 director general
  • Sir John Sawers – former MI6 chief
  • Bernard-Henri Levy – French philosopher
  • Stefan Fule – EU’s former enlargement chief

The disclosure comes after a number of EU politicians had tried to travel to Russia in recent months only to be told at the border that they could not enter because they were on the list. An EU spokesman said the list had now been handed over after repeated requests for details from the EU and the member states concerned.

“The list with 89 names has now been shared by the Russian authorities. We don’t have any other information on legal basis, criteria and process of this decision,” the spokesman said.

“We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency. We are keeping in close contact with the member states involved.”

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “If Russia’s intention is to put pressure on the EU to ease sanctions then this is not the way to do it.”

However, some of the politicians who ended up on the list, mocked the move:

“The answer to the demands of several European states, why it was precisely these people who entered into the list … is simple: It was done in answer to the sanctions campaign which has been waged in relation to Russia by several states of the European Union headed by Germany,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying by news agency TASS.

“An analogous list exists in relation to citizens of the US, however one needs to note that in this case the Americans are behaving more constructively than the Europeans,” he added.

Other countries with names on the list include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.