Russia slaps personal sanctions on 200+ foreign citizens – report
A fresh sanctions list issued by Moscow includes about 200 people known for their anti-Russian positions and actions, such as US Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson and firebrand Arizona Senator John McCain.
The report about the new list of foreigners subject to entry bans and asset freezes in Russia was published in the Thursday issue of the popular daily Izvestia. The newspaper referred to an undisclosed source in the presidential administration and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment on this information.
According to Izvestia, the new list includes mostly politicians, civil servants and other public figures known for their openly anti-Russian activities. About 60 people on the list are from the United States. Among these are Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson, presidential advisers Daniel Pfeiffer and Benjamin Rhodes, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Robert Menendes and Senators John McCain, Daniel Coats and Mary Landrieu.
“We have no special desire to play this banning game with the West, but if they maintain their sanctions activity we will also launch new blacklists prepared by our diplomatic missions,” the Kremlin source told the newspaper.
The Foreign Ministry sources also did not exclude further expansion of the Russian sanctions lists if western nations choose to continue the standoff.
The deputy head of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Relations, Leonid Kalashnikov, said many European nations had already understood that antagonizing Russia was hurting them and that politicians from these countries were actively seeking contacts with Moscow. According to media reports, seven EU states – Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia - intend to oppose the prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions, the MP noted.
“No one needs these blacklists; neither Russia nor the West. Russian politicians who fall under restrictions have never had real estate or bank accounts in Western countries. The only objective of the sanctions is to deprive us of the opportunity to deliver our position at international parliamentary conferences. But if the West is preaching the freedom of speech, why do they try to silence politicians?” Kalashnikov told Izvestia.
In March 2014, the United States and the European Union introduced sanctions, such as visa bans and asset freezes, on a number of Russians whom they accused of being “key ideologists and architects” of the policy towards Ukraine. As the relations between the West and Russia continued to deteriorate, more names were added to the blacklists. Russia replied with its own blacklist which, however, has not been published.
Earlier this month, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the press that “no sanctions will force Russia to make changes to the persistent line it follows in international affairs.” Peskov also called the sanctions “a double-edged sword” that, while causing certain discomfort to the Russian economy, was also hurting businesses in the countries that introduced them, not to mention the world economy as a whole.