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Russia Says U.S. Senator Barred Because Of 'Blacklist'

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen

WASHINGTON -- The Russian Embassy in Washington said late on December 29 that it had refused entry to U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen because she's on a "blacklist" that was created in reaction to sanctions imposed by the United States.

The move by Moscow against the Democratic senator led Republican Senators Ron Johnson and John Barrasso to announce they were canceling a planned trip by the three to Russia in January.

Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called Russia's action "counterproductive to improving relations between our nations."

Shaheen has been a leading critic of Russia and has pushed for stronger measures to thwart any future Russian interference in U.S. elections.

She also is a top advocate in Congress for banning government use of Kaspersky Lab products and urged the U.S. administration in October to declassify information about purported threats posed by the Russian firm.

In 2012, Shaheen called for the United States to deny visas to civil rights abusers from Russia seeking U.S. travel.

The Russian Embassy said in a statement posted on its website late on December 29 that Shaheen's request was rejected because of the blacklist but that visas were issued to the other senators.

The embassy blamed Washington for creating "this situation" and urged Washington to renounce the sanctions against Russia.

It said it offered to give visas to each other countries' citizens on black lists on a "reciprocal basis" but that the U.S. side rejected the proposal.

Several Russian citizens and entities are barred from travel to the United States under various sanction regimes, including under the Magnitsky Act, which aims to punish human rights abusers, and sanctions linked to Moscow's aggression in Ukraine.

Shaheen spokesman Ryan Nickel said that "while she regrets the Kremlin decision...she vows to continue her work to hold the Russian government accountable for its actions that go against international norms and against the Russian people."

With reporting by AP, The New Hampshire Union Leader, and Interfax
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