Moscow has barred some German and EU officials from entering Russia as part of its response to EU sanctions, following the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Russia imposed "unjustified" sanctions on representatives of the German government over European Union penalties related to the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a German Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.
Beate Grzeski, the charge d'affaires of the German Embassy in Moscow, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry and informed that "countermeasures in the form of travel bans against German state institutions have been ordered," a German Foreign Ministry source told French news agency AFP.
"While this past pattern of Russian countermeasures is known, they remain in the view of the German government unjustified," the source added.
The Navalny affair "is not a bilateral case," the official said, but rather "remains a case of international dimensions due to the violation of international law with the use of chemical nerve agents.
"We continue to call on Russia to clarify the use of a chemical weapon on Russian territory against a Russian citizen," the source said. "Russia has shown no willingness to do so."
Jürgen Hardt, a foreign policy spokesperson for the conservative Christian parties in Germany's parliament, told DW, "It's obvious that Russia has something to hide" and that Moscow has not shown a serious interest in investigating Navalny's poisoning.
Russia on Tuesday also said it "decided to expand the list of representatives of EU member states and institutions who will be denied entry to Russia" in response to the bloc's "confrontational" sanctions imposed in October over the poisoning of Navalny.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the diplomats from the French, German and Swedish embassies before announcing the new travel bans, state media reported.
The announcement came a day after Navalny said in a report he had impersonated an official in the Kremlin's Security Council and obtained an admission of guilt from a toxins expert with the FSB security service.
In a video of the conversation published by Navalny, the alleged FSB agent says agents put poison in Navalny's underwear this summer.
The Kremlin said Navalny was suffering from "delusions of persecution." Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously said that if the FSB wanted to kill Navalny, the opposition leader would be dead.
Navalny fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August and was hospitalized in the city of Omsk before being transported to a Berlin hospital. The anti-corruption campaigner has been receiving treatment in Germany since then.
mvb/sms (dpa, AFP)