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Russia bans 500 Americans from entry, from politicians to celebrities

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a list of 500 Americans who will be banned from the country in response to sanctions.
Russia bans 500 Americans from entry, from politicians to celebrities
Posted at 9:16 PM, May 19, 2023

Some 500 Americans are banned from entering Russia, including current and former U.S. government officials, educators and celebrities.

In a statement Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the ban was in response to sanctions by the Biden administration that it said "are designed to inflict maximum damage" on Russian officials and citizens.

Topping the list of "significant" figures in politics who won't be able to enter Russian territory are former President Barack Obama, three U.S. senators, many U.S. representatives, two former U.S. ambassadors to Russia and two former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine. The list also included companies that manufactured weapons supplied to Ukraine in its war with Russia and people who were "directly involved in the persecution of dissidents in the wake of the so-called Storming the Capitol."

Multiple American TV hosts and commentators also made the list, including Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Rachel Maddow, Erin Burnett and Joe Scarborough.

"It is high time for Washington to learn that not a single hostile attack against Russia will be left without a strong reaction," the statement said. "The principle of the inevitability of punishment will be consistently applied, whether we are talking about tougher sanctions pressure or discriminatory steps to hinder the professional activities of our fellow citizens."

SEE MORE: US: Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine

Tensions between Russia and the U.S. have continued to bubble amid the ongoing war with Ukraine.

In February, the U.S. State Department warned against any American traveling to Russia and said any American citizen still there should leave immediately. 

Currently, an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Evan Gershkovich, is being held in Russia's notorious Lefortovo Prison on espionage charges — the first such arrest since 1986.

Since the arrest in March, the President Joe Biden and other U.S. officials have publicly pushed for Gershkovich's release — and for the release of Paul Whelan, who is also in Russian prison.

But among Friday's list of banned Americans, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed it would deny the U.S. Embassy of Moscow's request for a consular visit to Gershkovich. This comes in response to the U.S. refusing to issue visas to Russian journalists traveling with Russia's minister of foreign affairs, Sergey Lavrov.

Russia released the list as world leaders are set to wrap up the G7 summit Sunday.

The leaders said they would be adding economic sanctions to Russia to "starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine." They also offered further support to Ukraine, including a plan to provide the country with F-16 fighter jets.

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