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European Parliament retaliates over Russia entry ban

European Parliament President Martin Schulz delivers a speech after receiving the Charlemagne Prize 2015 in Aachen, Germany May 14, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament retaliated on Tuesday against a Russian entry ban on European politicians and military leaders, saying Moscow’s envoy to Brussels was no longer welcome at the assembly and Russian lawmakers would be vetted before being allowed in.

The statement by European Parliament President Martin Schulz came a week after the Russian foreign ministry compiled a blacklist of 89 politicians, military and intelligence officials including outspoken critics of Russia.

“Martin Schulz today informed the Russian ambassador to the EU that ... he considers that it is now justified to take appropriate measures in response,” Schulz’s office said.

Those measures include blocking free access to Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian ambassador to the European Union, meaning he would only be allowed into the parliament under special circumstances.

Members of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and the Federation Council, the upper house, will only be granted access on a case-by-case basis, Schulz’s office said.

Schulz has also suspended a committee made up of Russian and EU lawmakers that meets several times a year to improve ties.

The steps underscore the worsening standoff between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

Since Russia annexed Crimea in March last year, the EU has imposed economic sanctions, visa bans and asset freezes on scores of Russian and Ukrainian citizens and organisations.

Moscow denies Western accusations that it is supporting pro-Russian separatists battling government forces in Ukraine, where 6,200 people have died in the fighting.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Mark Heinrich