Russia bans entry to 13 Canadian lawmakers, officials in spat over Ukraine
Russia is retaliating for Canadian sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, by slapping an entry ban on 13 Canadian lawmakers and officials.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said Monday the move was in response to the "unacceptable action by the Canadian side that has inflicted serious damage to bilateral relations."
It added that Russia remains open to a "constructive" co-operation with Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird are missing from the travel ban list, but other curious choices are included.
Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters, for example, is on the list, as is Speaker of the House Andrew Scheer, who has not spoken out about Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Liberal MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler tweeted that he was pleased to see his name on the list.
"I see my travel ban from Russia as a badge of honour, not a mark of exclusion #justice4sergeimagnitsky #cdnpoli #russia," he tweeted, referring to Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who died in prison after accusing Russian officials of colluding with organized criminals.
Later, in a statement, Cotler added he was first arrested and expelled from the Soviet Union in 1979 while advocating on behalf of political prisoners..
"These acts did not stop my human rights advocacy. Indeed, today’s announcement only inspires me to redouble my efforts to advance the cause of human rights for all. I stand in solidarity with the Russian people and those fighting for human rights and democracy. Their day will come and Putin will be no more," Cotler said.
Among the other names on the list were:
- Peter Van Loan, government House leader
- Dean Allison, Conservative MP for Niagara West-Glanbrook
- Ted Opitz, Conservative MP for Etobicoke Centre
- James Bezan, Conservative MP for Selkirk-Interlake
- Chrystia Freeland, Liberal MP for Toronto Centre
- Paul Dewar, NDP MP for Ottawa Centre
- Jean-Francois Tremblay, deputy secretary to the cabinet
- Christine Hogan, assistant secretary to the cabinet
- Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, a Conservative senator from Saskatchewan
- Paul Grod, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Don Martin, the host of CTV's Power Play, says some of the names on the list don't appear to make much sense, and while he suspects the travel bans won't have much of an effect on the officials, the choices are interesting.
"It shows they're monitoring the media to find the 'hostile voices' here in Canada against Russia's move on Crimea," Martin told CTV News Channel shortly after the travel bans were announced.
Last week, Harper extended the country's sanctions against Russia, banning several senior Russian bureaucrats from travel to Canada, including the intelligence chief of the Russian general staff and several of President Vladimir Putin's aides and advisers.
The sanctions also forbid Canadian citizens and companies from doing business with Bank Rossiya, which the Prime Minister's Office has said is the personal bank for senior Russian officials.
Over the weekend, Harper called for a "complete reversal" of Russia's annexation of Crimea, and suggested Russia should be kicked out of the Group of Eight nations. He has said that Putin can’t be trusted and that Putin's actions will spur similar territory grabs if his actions in Ukraine go unpunished.
Last week, Russia slapped a similar travel ban on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials, after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new round of sanctions.
Among those included on that list was Republican Sen. John McCain, who has called for stronger punitive measures against Russia and who travelled to Ukraine to support the protesterswho forced out former president Viktor Yanukovych.
"I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, my Gazprom stock is lost, and my secret bank account in Moscow is frozen," he joked in response.