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Latvia's 'Blacklisting' Dooms Moscow Ex-Mayor's Residency Bid

Yury Luzhkov in Moscow in September
Yury Luzhkov in Moscow in September
Former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's bid for residency in neighboring Latvia has been rejected because of hostile statements he allegedly made in the past about that country, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Latvia's security services reportedly intervened to put Luzhkov on a "so-called blacklist" preventing him from entering the country, according to a Latvian immigration-office spokesman.

Luzhkov has described Latvia's policies toward its Russian minority as genocide, and during a visit last year said Russian would soon become the country's second official language -- a statement that infuriated Latvians.

In addition to the past remarks, Latvian authorities questioned his motives for seeking residency in EU-member Latvia.

"My reason for putting him on the black list," Interior Minister Linda Murniece explained, according to AP, "is his attitude to Latvia, his hostile statements about Latvia, his wish to use Latvia to achieve his private goals, and his goal obviously was not to invest in Latvia or to develop the Latvian economy, but to use Latvia for free travel in the Schengen zone."

Luzhkov spent nearly two decades atop Moscow's mammoth bureaucracy, enjoying unrivaled local power while his wife accrued a massive fortune.

Luzhkov was said to have applied for the Latvian residency permit after meeting various financial requirements.

Luzhkov was sacked by President Dmitry Medvedev in October.

compiled from agency reports