In response to the European Union’s “unacceptable” sanctions over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Russia announced on Tuesday it is expanding the list of EU officials banned from entering the country. 

“The Russian side, acting on the basis of reciprocity, has decided to expand the list of representatives of EU Member States and institutions who will be denied entry to the Russian Federation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Although the names of the EU officials were not disclosed, the Russian MFA said that the sanctions list includes “those who are responsible for promoting anti-Russian sanctions initiatives” in the 27-member bloc. According to the TASS news agency, the Russian MFA summoned senior diplomats from the German, Swedish and French embassies before announcing the new travel bans.

Russia’s move came a day after the Kremlin critic released a video showing him tricking a Russian secret agent into disclosing details of the botched plot to kill him and had been told that poison had been placed in his underpants. The country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) responded that “the video clip with the phone call is fake”, according to reports by Russian state media, while it also called Navalny’s investigation into his alleged poisoning a “planned provocation”.

In October, the EU27 bloc imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning of the Kremlin critic with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. While German authorities support there is “unequivocal” evidence he was poisoned, citing tests carried out in labs in Germany, France and Sweden, Moscow said it has yet to see evidence of a crime and refused to open a criminal investigation.

Last week, the Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Russia was involved in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, citing that the Kremlin critic is “enjoying the support of the US special services” and that if Russia’s special services had wanted to kill him, they would have “finished” the job.




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