Russia has barred eight officials from European Union countries from entering the country in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Russian citizens by Brussels -- a move to which the bloc said it "reserves the right" to respond.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on April 30 that those banned included European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova, and David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament.
The EU imposed sanctions last month on two Russians accused of persecuting gay and lesbian people in the southern Russian region of Chechnya.
The EU also imposed sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin the same month.
Russia once again criticized the bloc's punitive measures and accused it of fomenting anti-Russian "hysteria."
"The EU continues the policy of illegitimate unilateral sanctions against Russian citizens and organizations," the statement said.
"In March 2021, six Russians were subjected to unlawful EU restrictions. This practice contradicts the UN charter and the basic norms of international law. It is accompanied by anti-Russian hysteria, deliberately spread by the Western media," it said.
Berlin's chief state prosecutor Joerg Raupach is also on the list, an apparent tit-for-tat response to the bloc's decision last month to slap entry bans on high-ranking Russian officials for their role in the jailing of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.
The other five Europeans on the list are Ivars Abolins, the head of Latvia's national council for electronic media; Maris Baltins, the director of Latvia's state language center; Jacques Maire, a member of the French delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE); Asa Scott, the head of the chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear safety lab at the Swedish Total Defense Research Institute; and Ilmar Tomusk, the chief of the Language Department of Estonia.
The statement says that the actions of the bloc "leave no doubt that their true goal is to restrain the development of our country at any cost."
In response, the EU called the Russian move "unacceptable" and "entirely groundless" and condemned it "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement on April 30.
"This decision is the latest, striking demonstration of how the Russian Federation has chosen confrontation with the EU instead of agreeing to redress the negative trajectory of our bilateral relations," the statement said.
"The EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response to the Russian authorities' decision."