Foreign affairs politician Karl-Georg Wellmann has been stopped from entering Russia, where he was to take part in talks on "the future of Ukraine". The move is "unacceptable," the German Foreign Ministry says.
The German government issued a protest to the Russian ambassador over Moscow's travel ban on conservative lawmaker Karl-Georg Wellmann, on Monday. Wellmann is the head of the German-Ukrainian group in the German Bundestag, and a known critic of Kremlin.
Russian authorities banned Wellmann from entering Russia until November 2019. According to the foreign affairs politician, officials only informed of the move after he landed in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday night. He was then asked to take the next flight to Berlin.
"I have no understanding and no explanation for this action," Wellmann told the Berliner Kurier newspaper. "I had a high-ranking invitation and was scheduled to hold talks in Moscow about the future of Ukraine - expressly with the involvement of the Russians."
Wellmann returned to Germany on Monday morning, after spending the night in the transit area at Moscow's airport.
Demarche in Moscow
Berlin's ambassador to Russia Rüdiger von Fritsch filed a diplomatic request - a demarche - with the Russian Foreign Ministry over the incident, Berlin officials have said.
A foreign minsitry spokesman in Berlin told reporters on Monday that the move was "incomprehensible and unacceptable," saying: "The German government expects the entry ban to be lifted."
Wellmann, who is a member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU), has been sharply critical of Russia's actions in east Ukraine. He has urged tougher sanctions on the Kremlin and called Russia a "warmonger" for allegedly supporting the rebels.
"It is a Russian war that is being conducted there," he said in mid-February on the television network ZDF, adding there was a "constant inflow" of weapons and fighters from Russia.
While in Moscow, Wellmann had intended to meet Konstantin Kosachev, the international affairs committee chairman in Russia's upper house of parliament, as well as Sergei Glazyev who is economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin, the German politician told Focus Online.
Wellman also said that he suspected Russian authorities of having created a whole list of Western officials that they intend to keep out of Russia, as a counter measure to the similar move by the EU.
"Because the list is not public, you only know that you are on it only when you are in the entry hall," Wellmann said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry declined to comment, following its policy of not discussing any denials of entry.
dj/msh (dpa, AFP, Reuters, Interfax)