Russia blacklists three prominent Latvians

The Russian Federation Friday has placed three persons from Latvia – Saeima deputy Andrejs Judins, Constitution Protection Bureau chief Janis Maizitis and theater director Alvis Hermanis – on its list of individuals banned from entering the country, according to information obtained by Latvian Television’s news service.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed that three persons from Latvia are included on Russia’s latest persona non grata list, but declined to reveal their names. All three have been notified of the prohibition, LSM has learned.

Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman Karlis Eihenbaums expressed regret at Russia’s decision, saying the ministry sees no logical reason for it.

“We understand this is every state’s sovereign decision. Apparently, Russia has been guided by its understanding that it must not remain ‘in debt’ to Latvia. We consider this kind of approach neither reasonable, nor constructive,” Eihenbaums remarked.

The Russian move seem a delayed response to a decision by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics to ban three popular Russian singers from entering the country to participate in the New Wave Russian pop-music festival in June for their close ties to and public support of Russia's president Vladimir Putin.

Stage director Alvis Hermanis, reached by phone, told LSM he hasn’t himself been to Russia in over four years, however his blockbuster adaptation of the dramatic play “Shuksin’s Tales” based on almost-forgotten classic mid-Soviet era writer and filmmaker Vasiliy Shukshin’s work clearly encapsulates his perspective on Russia.

In 2010 Hermanis' "Shukshin's Tales" was awarded the prestigious Russian "Golden Mask" for the best large-format dramatic production that season. Because the show represents his personal vision, the "bridging of the most passionate westerner with the angriest slavophile" (according to festival NET - New European Theater director Marina Davidova's review), Hermanis believes that his own physical presence on Russian Federation soil is hardly necessary anymore. The director stressed that Russia ought to act consistently and ban the play, as well.

“If there’s anyone who ought to be blacklisted in Russia, then that’s Putin, because nobody has done more harm to Russia and the Russian people than he has,” Hermanis noted.

He also expressed incomprehension over the inclusion of SAB head Maizitis, however fully understands why Judins made the short list. In Hermanis’ view, the Kremlin fears ethnic Russian politicians involvement in Latvia’s ruling parties more than anything.

In comments to newswire BNS, Janis Maizitis only pointed out that the prohibition on traveling to Russia would in no way disturb his ability to fulfil his official duties as chief of Latvia’s state security intelligence service.

On his part MP Andrejs Judins told LSM’s Russian-language service Rus.lsm.lv that he was informed Thursday of his inclusion on Russia’s latest blacklist. He declined to respond to questions regarding any relatives or friends in Russia, or whether he had planned to travel to this country anytime in the near future.

 

 

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