BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A German member of the European Parliament said on Friday she had been barred from entering Russia when she tried to attend a court hearing there for a Ukrainian woman army officer.
Rebecca Harms, co-chair of the Greens group in the parliament, said she believed she was on a secret Russian blacklist that could contain the names of other politicians who had supported sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine.
Harms flew to Moscow on Thursday intending to observe a Friday hearing in the case of Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian army officer seized by pro-Russian rebels in June while she was fighting with a pro-Kiev militia in eastern Ukraine.
Harms said that on arrival she was made to wait for four hours before being denied entry, and flew back to Brussels.
“There is an official decision in the Russian government. They see me as an unwanted, non-desired person and I had to sign a document that I don’t try to enter Russia. Otherwise, it would be seen as a criminal act,” she told a news conference.
Harms said she had traveled to Russia on a German diplomatic passport and did not need a visa to enter Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry declined to comment, citing its policy of not discussing any denials of entry to Russia.
The European Union condemned Russia’s decision to bar Harms.
Russia’s top investigative body has charged Savchenko with aiding and abetting the killing of two Russian journalists covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev has accused Russia of abducting Savchenko and said she was spirited across the border illegally after being seized by the separatists. Moscow has said she crossed the border on her own as a refugee and was arrested in Russia.
Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow; editing by Andrew Roche