Let’s just say that the European Union is not very happy about those 89 European politicians, officials and military leaders reportedly banned from entering Russia.
The controversial list includes general secretary of the EU council Uwe Corsepius, and former British deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The nation decided to finally reveal the list after a number of requests from diplomats, the EU said.
They called the ban “totally arbitrary and unjustified” and said that the nation has not provided a legitimate reason. Most of the names in the list are people who have gone against or criticized the Russian government in the past.
The European Union had asked them many times for the list of those not allowed to enter, but nothing had been shared until now. “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,” an EU spokesman said on Saturday.
“We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency,” he added.
The list of those banned from entering the country has not been officially released, but there appears to be a leaked version in German going around the internet. A Russian foreign ministry official spoke to the media and did not reveal any names, but said that the ban was a result of EU sanctions against the country. “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,” the official, who was not named, told Russian news agency Tass.
Before the list was revealed, the official had recommended that all diplomats from countries imposing sanctions should check with Russian consular offices before visiting the country to see if they were allowed to enter or not. “Just one thing remains unclear: did our European co-workers want these lists to minimize inconveniences for potential ‘denied persons’ or to stage another political show?” he said.
Russia has been hit with many sanctions by the EU after it added Ukraine’s Crimea region a year ago. The sanctions have increased after heavy fighting between government troops and Ukraine.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke to the media two days ago and said that the list had been shared with the diplomats and that three from his country are on it. He says they will ignore the ban as it was “not based on international law”.
Many others like British intelligence and military chiefs, including MI5 director general Andrew Parker, former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers and chief of the defense staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton are reportedly on the long list. Britain’s foreign office said: “The Russian authorities have not provided any legal basis for the list or for the names on it.
“If Russia thinks this action will cause the EU to change its position on sanctions, it is wrong.”
France and Belgium also have names on the list. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and the EU’s former enlargement chief Stefan Fule are all in it.
Lots of Big Names
Sweden is one of the nations with a lot of names and they have asked Russia for an explanation. They have eight names in total, including Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt. “I’m more proud than scared and this gives me more determination to continue… If the Kremlin takes me and my colleagues seriously it means we’re doing a good job,” Ms, Bildt told AFP.
Some are not upset, former Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, sees it a different way and is actually pleased he made 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 the CTK news agency. The list features names from many other countries such as Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and Spain.