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19 May, 2023 20:23

Barack Obama banned from Russia

The former president is among 500 Americans on Moscow’s latest blacklist
Barack Obama banned from Russia

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday published a list of 500 US citizens – including former president Barack Obama – who are banned from entering the country with immediate effect. The move is a response to the ongoing American sanctions against Moscow. 

“It is high time for Washington to learn that not a single attack against Russia will go without a strong reaction,” the ministry said in a statement. “The principle of inevitable punishment will be consistently applied, whether we are talking about tougher sanctions or discriminatory steps to hinder the professional activities of our citizens.”

In reprisal for the US embassy in Moscow witholding visas for Russian journalists – which prevented them from accompanying Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the UN Security Council last month – the Russian government has refused to grant the embassy’s request for a consular visit to Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal correspondent charged with espionage.

Besides Obama, the list Russian blacklist includes many members of Congress, governors and attorney-generals of several US states, former officials currently on boards of prominent think tanks, military contractors who supply weapons to Ukraine, and even the short lived “disinformation czar” Nina Jankowicz.

Also on the list are “those in government and law enforcement agencies who are directly involved in the persecution of dissidents in the wake of the so-called Capitol insurrection,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

Notable names in that category include US Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves, his predecessor Michael Sherwin, DC Attorney General Karl Racine, and Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot unarmed protester Ashli Babbitt.

Among the prominent Biden administration officials who made the blacklist are Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt (formerly the US ambassador to Ukraine in 2014); James Rubin, former State Department spokesman and current head of the Global Engagement Center; State Department Counselor Derek Chollet; and President Joe Biden’s senior advisor, Anita Dunn.

TV hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Rachel Maddow, and Joe Scarborough were also among the sanctioned, along with former NBC presenter Brian Williams.

Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force, Christine Wormuth and Frank Kendall, made the list as well, along with USAF Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr.

Think tanks and the military-industrial complex made the bulk of the list, however. Former secretary of defense and Marine general James Mattis was sanctioned for being on the board of General Dynamics, and ex-CIA director George Tenet as board member of agency contractor In-Q-Tel.

Former US ambassador to Russia John Tefft was sanctioned as a senior fellow at RAND Corporation. Nelson Strobridge “Strobe” Talbot III – formerly of the State Department – and Norm Eisen were sanctioned for their involvement with the Brookings Institute. Senior Russia and Eurasia researcher Eric Ciaramella was among the many Carnegie Foundation employees on the sanctions list, which also contained many names from the Atlantic Council and the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tanks.

Other prominent names on the Russian blacklist were Ukraine’s former finance minister Natalie Jaresko and former Russia expert at the National Security Council Fiona Hill.