Russia condemned over crackdown on freedom of expression

The Russian Foreign Ministry has declared Greens/EFA Member of the European Parliament Bronis Ropė persona non grata in Russia. 

He will be refused entry to the country for the next five years.

Greens/EFA Presidents Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller commented: “We are deeply concerned over the fact that without appropriate justification, members of the European Parliament could be refused entrance to the territory of the Russian Federation. 

"We experienced such harsh action of the Russian authorities towards members of the Greens/EFA Group before and ask the President of the European Parliament to raise this matter with the relevant Russian authorities and inquire about the reasoning that lies behind the decision on sanctions towards Bronis Ropė.

 "Freedom of expression is not a crime. Russia as a State Party to the European Convention on Human Rights should follow the rules the Russian government itself has signed.”

In a letter to European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts expressed their deep concern and asked the President of the Parliament to to raise this matter with the relevant Russian authorities and inquire about the reasoning that lies behind the decision on sanctions towards Bronis Ropė.

The letter to Tajani reads:

“As you might be well aware, last week Russian authorities have announced that Mr. Bronis Ropė, Greens / EFA member of the European Parliament, has been declared persona non grata in Russia and will be refused entry to this country for next five years. 

"We would like to draw your attention to the fact that neither MEP Ropė, nor the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs were informed about the reasons behind such an act of the Russian Federation authorities, other than rather vague and unreasoned public statement of “being among Lithuanians, most hostile towards Russia”.

"This action however is not the first case where members of this house and of our own group are declared personae non grata by the authorities of Russia. 

"We would therefore like to express our deepest concern over the fact that members of this house could be, without appropriate justification, refused entrance to the territory of the Russian Federation, a neighbouring state with which the European Union is looking forward to renew a partnership and cooperation agreement and with which it is implementing a plethora of cooperation programmes.

"We would like to ask you to raise this matter with the relevant Russian authorities and inquire about the reasoning that lies behind the decision on sanctions towards MEP Ropė."

It concludes, "We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that several years ago, in reaction to similar actions of Russian authorities towards members of this house, strict measures were taken including restricting access to the premises of the Parliament for officials of the Russian Federation, as well as limiting then existing cooperation formats."

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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