Russia puts 89 Western leaders on secret ban list
London, May 31: Britain's former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is among a secret list of 89 Western leaders declared persona non-grata by Russia, prompting the UK government to say that there was no justification for the move.
Clegg, the outgoing Liberal Democrat leader appears to have angered the Kremlin by calling for Russia to be stripped of the 2018 football World Cup in an interview with 'The Sunday Times' last July, after President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine.
Clegg had said it was "unthinkable" that Russia should keep the tournament. He has been joined on the no-go list by eight other Britons, including former UK foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
Andrew Parker, director-general of MI5, Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, and Philip Dunne, a defence minister, are also reported to be on the list, 'The Sunday Times' reported.
Russian authorities drew up the list, the details of which remain sketchy, in response to European Union travel bans on Putin's cronies over Russia's annexation of Crimea last year.
Meanwhile, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "There is no justification for this list. And the Russian authorities have not provided any legal basis for the list or for the names on it".
"If Russia's intention is to put pressure on the EU to ease sanctions, this is not the way to do it. The EU and member states are urgently seeking more transparency from the Russian authorities for this move," it added.
Russia has recently denied entry to a number of European politicians because they are on the "stop list". But the list's existence was only admitted last week when it was handed to an EU delegation in Moscow.