Former Bulgarian ambassador in Moscow among 89 EU citizens on ‘stop list’ barred from Russia

A former ambassador of Bulgaria in Moscow, Ilian Vassilev, is among citizens of European Union countries who have been barred from entering Russia.

Most of the names are people from the Baltic States, Poland, Sweden and the UK. Apart from the names, no reasons or legal justification for banning entry to Russia was given.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on May 30 that the previous day, it had been informed by the embassy in Moscow that it had received a list via the EU Delegation in Moscow of a list of nationals of EU member states denied access to Russia.

The list contained the names of 89 people, including Vassilev, the Foreign Ministry said.

Russia had provided the list at the insistence of the EU in relation to the recent frequent cases of European citizens being denied access and who did not have any prior information in this regard.

Bulgaria, together with its partners in the EU, would seek explanations for each individual case of a European citizen who was refused access to the Russian Federation, the statement said.

Speaking to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on May 30, Vassilev was likely related to his stance against so-called “Grand Slam” – the three major energy projects with Russian participation in the country.

In 2008, Bulgaria’s then-president, Georgi Purvanov – a former leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party – spoke of a “Grand Slam” in relation to deals with Russia: the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, the Belene nuclear power station project and the South Stream gas pipeline project.

“Those who took this step should comment. I have nothing to comment on,” said Vassilev, who said that he would continue his analyses “and that someone has decided to take this action because of them clearly goes beyond good manners and normal practices but…these are the times, with no standards.”

BNR quoted DPA as saying that others similarly banned included MEPs from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Germany.

Also included were UK former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, former European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy , senior European military personnel and two former foreign ministers of Denmark.

A spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy arm, the European External Action Service, said on May 30: “In the past few months several EU politicians have been denied entry when arriving at the Russian border. The Russian authorities justified these refusals by referring to the inclusion of these individuals on a confidential ‘stop list’.”

After each of these refusals, the EU and the member states whose nationals were affected had repeatedly requested transparency about the content of this list, the spokesperson said.

The list with 89 names has now been shared by the Russian authorities, the statement said.

“We don’t have any other information on legal basis, criteria and process of this decision. We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency,” the EEAS spokesperson said, adding that the service was keeping in close contact with the EU member states involved.

(Photo of the Russian foreign ministry: Shako01)



The Sofia Globe staff

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