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Russia bans 963 prominent Americans from entering Russia

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Adam Schultz/White House) | Russian President Vladimir Putin during virtual meetings on March 18, 2021. (Kremlin/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has published a list of 963 government officials and leading Americans who are banned from entering the country in retaliation for similar moves by Washington since the offensive in Ukraine.

The list, published on May 21, includes U.S. President Joe Biden, business leaders such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Jamie Fly, president of RFE/RL, along with several current or former members of the board that oversees RFE/RL.

The largely symbolic move names several top officials from the Biden administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The list also includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat-New York), and the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

Fly said on Twitter that he was “proud to be included on this list. RFE/RL being attacked by authoritarians is nothing new. We know that history is on the side of the Russian people. We’ll continue to expand our reporting for Russian audiences at this critical moment.”

Moscow had already announced sanctions targeting many of those on the list.

One exception is Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, who had not previously been cited by Russian authorities. He is now accused by Moscow of having recorded a video in 2017 in which he claimed Russia was plotting against the United States.

Russia also banned three former senators who are deceased: John McCain (Republican-Arizona), Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada), and Orrin Hatch (Republican-Utah).

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement the move was in response to “the constantly imposed anti-Russian sanctions” and said it aimed “to constrain the U.S. which is trying to impose a neocolonial ‘world order’ on the rest of the planet…to change its position and recognize new geopolitical realities.”

It added that Moscow remained open to “honest dialogue” and drew a distinction between the people of the United States and authorities who it said have been “inciting Russophobia.”

The ministry also said it also banned 26 more Canadians, including Sophie Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian prime minister.