Thursday, August 11, 2011

'Russia mulls visa ban on US officials'

The Russian Foreign Ministry

Source: Press TV

Russia says it has drawn up a list of US officials to be barred from entering the country amid growing tension between Moscow and Washington.

"In the case of the United States we will simply put a cross next to the names of those who are not wanted. When a person applies for a visa at a Russian consulate he will be rejected," said a Russian Foreign Ministry source, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The move came after the US placed visa ban on Russian officials suspected of role in the 2009 death of a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky as the victim was awaiting trial in a Russian prison.

If confirmed, Moscow's decision could endanger the push for the 'reset' of the Russo-American ties initiated by Washington under US President Barack Obama.

Russia's Interfax news agency, however, quoted a ministry source as saying that "the issue is still being worked on."

The ban from entering the United States, which has been issued by the State Department, has affected 60 Russian officials.

Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned that "such actions could introduce a serious irritant to Russian-US relations."

"We will not leave such unfriendly steps unanswered and we will take adequate measures, protecting the sovereignty of our country and rights of Russian citizens against unjustified moves by foreign states," it noted.

Relations between the two sides are already strained over Washington's plans to install a missile shield in Europe. Moscow as well opposes the deadly US-led attacks in Libya, which are carried out with the so-called aim of forcing Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi out of power.

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