Russia bars more European officials from entry over Navalny sanctions

Russia bars more European officials from entry over Navalny sanctions
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Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday barred more European officials from entering the nation in response to sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

According to The Associated Press, the sanctions came in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed on six Russian officials and a state research institute in October. 

On Tuesday, Russia’s foreign ministry released a statement calling the EU sanctions “a confrontational political decision,” adding that Russia was expanding “the list of representatives of EU member states and institutions who will be denied entry to the Russian Federation.”

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Although the foreign ministry did not indicate which EU officials or how many would be banned, it added that the officials include “those who are responsible for promoting anti-Russian sanctions initiatives.” 

This comes a day after Navalny, a longtime opponent of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Hillicon Valley — Facebook 'too late' curbing climate falsities France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE, released a recording of a phone call he said he made to an alleged state security operative. In the recording, the man revealed some details of the operation, saying a nerve agent was planted in Navalny’s underpants. 

The Kremlin on Tuesday denied this account, with Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Putin, saying on a conference call that he personally believed Navalny to be mentally unstable.

In August, Navalny fell sick during a flight in Russia and was flown to Berlin for treatment. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, found that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok.

The AP reported that the German foreign ministry had been notified that Russia issued entry bans against “German government agencies,” though no further details were provided.

The ministry told the AP that while it has seen similar retaliatory measures by Russia in the past, it still considers such moves “unjustified.” 

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in Navalny’s poisoning, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggesting last month that the opposition leader could have been poisoned in Germany or while on the plane for treatment.

Last week, Putin continued the country’s denials, saying during his annual press conference that if Russian agents wanted Navalny dead, they would have “probably finished it.”