Russia slaps sanctions on dozens of Canadians in tit-for-tat measure

Moscow has banned dozens of Canadian individuals from entering Russia in retaliation for sanctions recently imposed by Ottawa against 30 Russian officials.

The move was prompted after Canada’s government on Friday banned and froze the assets of 30 Russians over alleged accusations of corruption and human rights violations.

“We have to respond with mirror-image sanctions,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement. “If our Canadian partners like playing sanctions games, we will be forced to respond, although we certainly prefer to develop constructive cooperation on the issues important for the peoples of both countries.”

“The list is long and contains dozens of names — the Russophobic Canadian citizens that have been systematically destroying bilateral relations,” Zakharova said, without offering names.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also warned that Canada must step back from a “destructive course, leading to further aggravation of bilateral relations.”

Meanwhile, the Russian diplomatic mission in Canada censured Ottawa’s measure as “a false pretext of a hypocritical protection of human rights,” which is “absolutely senseless and reprehensible.”

Ottawa “is isolating itself from one of the key global powers” and “pushes Canada’s foreign policy back to the narrow black-and-white world view, incompatible with modern geopolitics,” the mission added.

“At the moment, dozens of Canadians have been banned from entering Russia; this is not our choice, but in case of new sanctions, our response will be unchanged and reciprocal in terms of amount and quality,” it said.

Canada’s sanctions list came after the country earlier this year passed its own version of the United States’ Magnitsky Law, a measure that punishes Russian officials linked to the case of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison after exposing an alleged tax fraud scheme in 2009.

The Magnitsky Act in the US has led to sanctions on more than 40 senior Russian officials so far. The list includes names of those whose assets under US jurisdiction are frozen and are barred from doing business with Americans or receiving US visas.