CHISINAU -- The Moldovan government has declared Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to be persona non grata.
The government approved the move initiated by Foreign Minister Andrei Galbur on August 2, according to which Rogozin is barred from entering or crossing over Moldova.
The government explained the decision by citing Rogozin's controversial public statements about Moldova, its people, and its leadership on July 28 after Romanian authorities banned a commercial flight that Rogozin was on from entering its airspace.
Rogozin was scheduled to hold talks with Moldova's pro-Russia President Igor Dodon and attend controversial July 29 celebrations initiated by Moscow to mark the 25th anniversary of Russia's so-called peacekeeping operation in Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin called the ban on Rogozin "provocative and unsubstantiated" and said the Moldovan government is trying to "ruin relations" with Russia.
Dodon said he still plans to meet with Rogozin in Tehran on August 4 while attending the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rohani.
The declaration of independence by Transdniester separatists in the 1990s has not been recognized by any country -- despite Moscow's unofficial backing of the separatists.
Russia maintains a 1,200-strong military force in Transdnieste. Moldova has repeatedly called for it to be replaced with international peacekeepers.
Rogozin has been targeted by U.S., European Union, and Canadian sanctions over his public support for Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Under those sanctions, he is banned from entering EU countries.