Russia bans 200 Canadians in tit-for-tat move

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with the new Canadian Ambassador to Russia Alison LeClaire as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on, during a ceremony for newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, February 5, 2020. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS

Dec 9 (Reuters) - Russia is banning 200 prominent Canadians from entering the country in a direct response to personal sanctions announced by Ottawa, the foreign ministry in Moscow said on Friday.

Canada earlier announced sanctions against 33 current or former Russian officials and six entities involved in alleged "systematic human rights violations" against citizens who protested against the invasion of Ukraine.

"In response to personal sanctions imposed by Ottawa ... 200 Canadian citizens are denied entry on a reciprocal basis," the ministry said on its website.

Since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24, Canada has imposed sanctions on more than 1,500 individuals and entities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Earlier on Friday, the Russian ministry said it had summoned Canada's ambassador in Moscow.

In a statement, it said Alison LeClaire, had been told Ottawa was "fomenting an atmosphere of Russophobia".

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey, David Ljunggren and John Stonestreet

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