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Russia To Explain Travel Ban On Armenian Pundit


Armenia - Russian Ambassador Ivan Volynkin addresses a Eurasian youth forum in Tsaghkadzor, 11Jun2014.

Armenia - Russian Ambassador Ivan Volynkin addresses a Eurasian youth forum in Tsaghkadzor, 11Jun2014.

The Russian Embassy in Armenia has asked immigration authorities in Moscow to explain their controversial decision to refuse entry to a pro-Western Armenian political analyst, a Russian diplomat said on Wednesday.

Stepan Grigorian, who runs a private think-tank in Yerevan, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport on August 30 and deported back to Armenia after flying to the Russian capital to visit his late father’s grave.

Grigorian says Russian border guards told him that he has been barred from entering Russia until 2030. But they gave no further explanations, according to him.

Oleg Shapovalov, an adviser to Russian Ambassador to Armenia Ivan Volynkin, confirmed reports that the Armenian government has requested an explanation from Moscow.

“In principle, we are not obliged to comment or explain [such decisions,]” Shapovalov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Nevertheless, in view of an appeal from the Armenian Foreign Ministry, we have asked our corresponding structure [in Russia] for a comment and are dealing with that issue.”

“We will report the results to the Armenian Foreign Ministry,” he said.

Grigorian is known for his strong support for Armenia’s closer ties with the West and his criticism of Russian policies in the region. He believes that he was barred from entering Russia for political reasons. The pundit has also suggested that the Russian authorities have a whole blacklist of prominent Armenians subject to a travel ban.

“We have no such special lists,” insisted Shapovalov. “Nevertheless, as a sovereign country, Russia has a sovereign right to let or not to let some people into its territory.”

The Russian diplomat also expressed confidence that the August 30 incident will not damage Russia’s close relations with Armenia.

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