Russia Opposition
Russia Opposition

MOSCOW - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov needs to explain why 89 European politicians have been banned from entering Russia and confirm their names, an opposition lawmaker said Sunday in a formal inquiry.

Dmitry Gudkov, the sole member of Russia's parliament who opposes the Kremlin, also told Lavrov that while he understood such a step might have been necessary, it should have been taken transparently and in consultation with parliament.

Russia has shared the list with European Union officials, but has refused to release it. A leaked list published by the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle includes politicians from 17 EU countries, but no explanation for the bans.

The 28-nation EU on Saturday criticized the Russian bans as "totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency."

Two German parliament members who were turned back after flying into Moscow are on the list and were among several refusals that led the EU to ask Russia about it. Also on the published list are several high-ranking officials from Britain, including the head of the MI5 security service, the chief of its defense staff and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said only that the blacklist was in response to EU economic sanctions and travel bans imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

Gudkov's request drew a harsh reaction from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

"Was he this active when EU countries put together their blacklists? And did he write such critical, or perhaps objective, letters to the leadership of EU countries with the request to stop compiling stop lists against Russian citizens?" Zakharova said on Govorit Moskva radio. "Probably he did this, but unfortunately for some reason no one knows about it."

She did not say whether the Russian list would be made public.

More than half the politicians on the published list are from Poland, Sweden and the three Baltic countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. Politicians from Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain also are on it.