Moscow bans senior Canadian officials, accuses them of “anti-Russian” activities

Moscow bans senior Canadian officials, accuses them of “anti-Russian” activities

The Russian Foreign Ministry has banned a number of Canadian officials – including Justice Minister David Lametti – from visiting the country, citing what it claims to be “anti-Russian” activity.

In a statement, a ministry spokesperson said that Lametti, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and a number of government officials – including the top ministry bureaucrat National Defense, Jody Thomas – will not be able to travel to Russia. because they have shown “inappropriate and counterproductive activity in favor of the ultranationalist regime” in Ukraine and other “Russophobic forces” in the Baltic states.

Justice Minister David Lametti delivers his opening speech at a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, May 7, 2021. Lametti has been banned from traveling to Russia. (Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press)

The Foreign Office said the nine banned people – which also include Marci Surkes, senior advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Rear Admiral Scott Bishop, commander of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command – “contributed to the degradation bilateral relations ”and interfered in the internal affairs of Russia.

Canada-Russia relations have deteriorated in recent years. Canada has imposed sanctions on those at the center of power in Moscow for the illegal annexation of Crimea and its treatment of dissidents like popular opposition figure Alexey Navalny, among others.

A man holds a sign reading “One for all, all for one” during a rally in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Omsk, Russia, Jan.23, 2021. (Alexey Malgavko / Reuters)

In March, Canada imposed sanctions on nine senior Russian officials for “gross and systematic human rights abuses,” including the attempted assassination and subsequent imprisonment of Navalny.

Navalny, one of the main political opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned last summer with the nerve agent Novichok.

He was treated in a Berlin hospital, but was subsequently jailed and sentenced to two years in prison upon his return to Russia on what are widely regarded as politically motivated charges.

Navalny and his supporters accused Putin of ordering the poisoning. The Kremlin denied the accusation.

The United States and the European Union have also imposed sanctions on Russia’s pursuit of Navalny.

In its statement detailing the travel ban, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Canada had promoted “far-fetched” theories about Navalny, who it said was rightfully “convicted of illegal acts”.

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