Russia bans Obama, Maddow, Colbert over sanctions

Russia has banned hundreds of U.S. citizens, including former President Obama, political commentator Rachel Maddow and late-night host Stephen Colbert, from entering its territory in response to the U.S. sanctions over the Ukraine war.

The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a Friday post on its website it is blocking entry for 500 Americans in response to the sanctions it said are designed to inflict the most damage possible on officials and civilians in Russia.

The list of banned individuals includes former officials, lawmakers from both parties who were elected to Congress during last year’s midterm elections and may have been missed in previous rounds, experts and analysts for centers the ministry said spread “Russophobic” attitudes, and companies that have supplied weapons to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

The ministry said the list also includes individuals who have been involved in the “persecution of dissidents” who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming and riot at the Capitol.

“It is high time for Washington to learn that not a single hostile attack against Russia will be left without a strong reaction,” the post states. “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.”

The U.S. and other Western allies of Ukraine have placed sanctions on Russia numerous times since Russian forces began their full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

Names on the list also include Reps. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.) and Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.), CNN anchor Erin Burnett, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves.

Late-night hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers and former NBC and MSNBC anchor Brian Williams are also banned.

The ministry also said it rejected the latest U.S. request for officials to have a consular visit with Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in response to the U.S. not issuing visas to Russian journalists who wished to join Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov on his visit to the United Nations in New York.

Gershkovich was detained in March on espionage charges in Russia, the first U.S. journalist to be arrested on spying allegations since the Cold War. The State Department and the Journal have denied he was conducting espionage, and the department has declared him wrongfully detained.

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