Sanctioned Russian interior minister says he had ‘no problem’ getting US visa

The Russian interior minister, who is in New York for a UN police summit, says he did not face any problems entering the US. Vladimir Kolokoltsev was among 24 Russians hit by US sanctions in April.

While Russia-related sanctions imposed by the US Treasury might have caused headaches for some Russian businessmen, this has not been the case for Russia’s top law enforcement official.

Kolokoltsev, who arrived for a two-day UN Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS) on Wednesday, said that he did not encounter any “significant problems” as he planned his visit to New York. The meeting sees police chiefs from 193 nations coming together to discuss their forces’ contribution to UN peacekeeping missions and the role of police in preventing international conflicts from spiraling into violence.

The Russian minister has praised the US State Department for an impeccably organized trip.

“I can say even more – the way the US State Department handled our delegation’s security and transport issues did not give rise to criticism,” Kolokoltsev said, adding that “everything was top quality” and he did not experience any problems.

Apart from taking part in the summit’s sessions, Kolokoltsev held separate meetings with UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and South Korea’s National Police Agency chief Lee Chul-Sung.

Speaking on the sidelines of the forum, Kolokoltsev said that Moscow is mulling expanding its police’s involvement in the UN peacekeeping activities.

“We are ready to consider the question of Russian police officers participating in projects of specialized police groups, including joint English-language missions with other countries,” he told media on Thursday.

In April, 24 Russians businessmen and state officials were put on a list of persons sanctioned for what US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described as “a range of maligned activity around the globe,” accusing Moscow of “occupying” Crimea, fanning violence in the war-ravaged eastern Ukraine and backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In addition to Kolokoltsev, several high-profile Russian officials, including the head of the National Guard Service Viktor Zolotov, ex-FSB head Nikolay Patrushev and chair of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev, were subjected to the punitive measures.

The restrictions also targeted major Russian corporations, such as the world’s second-largest aluminum producer Rusal and Russian defense corporation Rosoboronexport.

Russia denounced the move as a flagrant violation of international norms,  particularly the principles of free trade, and slapped Washington with counter-measures, signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

The legislation allows Moscow to cease international cooperation in response to “hostile actions” from foreign states, including to impose import and export embargos on certain goods.

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