Moscow says bans on entry to nine Canadians are “retaliatory measures” for sanctions against Russian officials in March.
Russia has announced strong sanctions against nine senior Canadian officials, including the Justice Minister, following similar measures by Canada for the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.
Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that nine Canadians had been banned from entering Russia “for an indefinite period.”
Prohibited Canadians include Justice Minister David Lametti, the head of prisons, Anne Kelly, and Scott Bishop, commander of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Jody Thomas was also attacked along with Brenda Lucki, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and his deputy Brian Brennan.
Senior Army official Mike Rouleau, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Marci Surkes, a senior official in the post of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are also on the list.
Moscow said the entry bans were “retaliatory measures” for sanctions that were slapped on nine Russian officials on March 24.
Canada said at the time that its sanctions were a response to “serious” rights violations and the silence of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken internal critic.
Navalny is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for “parole violations.”
Canadian sanctions, aimed at Russian officials, including Alexander Bortnikov, head of the powerful Federal Security Service (FSB), included a freeze on assets.
Russian opposition figure Navalny was jailed on his return to Russia in January from Germany, where he was treated for what German authorities concluded was poisoning Russia with a banned nerve agent.
The Kremlin says it has not seen any evidence that he has been poisoned and that his prison is not political.
Anti-corruption activist declared hunger strike in March to demand proper medical treatment behind bars growing list of health complaints, including numbness in the limbs.
In an increasingly weak state of the hunger strike, Navalny was taken to a prison hospital on April 20 amid warnings from the West of serious consequences if he died.
The 45-year-old politician called off the strike three days later. On Monday, his team said he had been transferred back to his penal colony in Pokrov, 100 km (60 miles) west of Moscow.
The European Union and the United States have also given a new sanction to Moscow for the treatment it treated Navalny since his return to Russia.