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‘He was long aware of travel ban’: Russia dismisses hawkish US senator’s claim he was denied visa

‘He was long aware of travel ban’: Russia dismisses hawkish US senator’s claim he was denied visa
Moscow dismissed claims by US Republican Senator Ron Johnson that he was denied entry to the country over his scathing criticism of the Kremlin. The lawmaker well knew he was blacklisted so he never applied for a visa, it said.

In a strongly worded statement on Monday, Johnson claimed that his visit to Russia as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation was about to be derailed after he failed to get a green light from the Russian authorities.

“Unfortunately, Russian officials continue to play diplomatic games with this sincere effort and have denied me entrance to Russia”.

Johnson, who is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, then launched into a long Russia-bashing tirade, describing President Vladimir Putin’s policy as “a tragedy of historic proportions.”

The statement implied that Johnson’s sharp rhetoric towards Moscow was the reason why he was supposedly barred from the country. “Regardless of this petty affront, I will continue to advocate a strong and resolute response to Russian aggression – and frank dialogue when possible,” he said.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, told RIA Novosti that Johnson was well aware that he has been blacklisted by Moscow in a mirrored response to Washington sanctioning Russian officials. The country’s embassy in the US said that Johnson did not even bother applying for a visa.

By the way, the senator did not apply for a visa at our embassy and did not inform [us] about his plans to visit Russia.

The embassy said that, judging by the tone of Johnson’s remarks, it is “unlikely one can take seriously his statements of alleged intentions to restore direct dialogue” with Russia.

The embassy referred to widespread restrictions that are currently in
place against Russian lawmakers, preventing them from engaging in any kind of
dialogue, while urging the US side to lift them as a first step towards the
abolition of “blacklists.”

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