The refusal to allow Ms Sandra Kalniete, Member of the European Parliament, enter the territory of the Russian Federation has prevented her from attending the funeral of Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered on 27 February in Moscow. Similar entry bans have also affected representatives of EU Member States.
The justification given to Ms Kalniete, who holds a diplomatic passport, implies that she represents a threat to the security of the state or to the public order of the Russian Federation. This would not appear to be a credible explanation of the refusal and is not in keeping with the spirit of the Visa Facilitation Agreement between the EU and Russia. Russian authorities should also exercise transparency with regard to travel restrictions.
While the European Union is committed to finding a way towards de-escalation, such signals from Russia add new tensions in already difficult times, with the emergence of a trend whereby EU representatives are selectively banned from entering Russia for apparently arbitrary reasons.