“Moscow will not leave unnoticed the incident with the expulsion of the director of the National Energy Security Fund, Konstantin Simonov, from Latvia,” he said.
Simonov arrived in the Latvian capital city Riga on November 14 at the invitation of the international media club Format AZ. He was supposed to take part in a public discussion dedicated to gas wars, a club’s representative, Olga Avdevich, told TASS, adding that the decision to blacklist Simonov was taken after he had arrived in the country.
“I was told that I can challenge this writ within 30 days and I think I will use this opportunity. I just want to understand why they have blacklisted me as an unwanted person in Latvia,” Simonov told TASS.“I am shocked at Latvia’s decision. First, I have always stood for the normalization of relations with Europe and I have never withheld it. The energy sector is just a part of this process for me,” he noted. “Second, I cannot understand how Europe ensures human rights for personal space and private life and how the authorities get to know where a person is a given moment and why they refuse to say how they know this. And, finally, why a democratic country cannot say clearly what a man can do wrong over just half a day to become a persona non grata.”
He said that ahead of his trip to Riga, organizers had contacted Latvia’s foreign ministry to learn about potential problems that might face him. “The Latvian foreign ministry said there were no problems. I arrived in Riga by a morning flight and states the purpose of my visit when I was going through border crossing procedures. There were no claims to me and I reached the center of the city from the airport. When I was having lunch, two border officers came to me and told me a decision had been taken to immediately expel me from Latvia as a persona non grata. So, first they let me in the country and then in just a few hours I became an unwanted person who is to be immediately deported. At the moment, I am staying at the border service office. Later I will be taken to the airport to fly to Moscow by the next flight,” Simonov said.
“The interior ministry says it decided today that I am a threat to Latvia on the basis of information from the security agencies. Why did they take this decision? What threat am I posing? And, what is most important, how did they know where I was at the moment of my detention? They gave me no explanations. And what is most vexing is the fact that I am reputed in Russia as an advocate of normalizing relations with the European Union, especially in the energy sector. It seems to be an irritating factor in the present-day Europe,” he noted.
In 2014, Latvia has blacklisted a number of Russia citizens, including people of culture. In the summer, ahead of the New Wave pop singers’ contest in Jurmala, Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkeviks supplemented the blacklist of Russians banned from entry to Latvia for an indefinite period with the names of Russian popular singers Joseph Kobzon, Oleg Gazmanov and Valeria. In the autumn, the blacklist was once again supplemented with the name of Russian actors Ivan Okhlobystin and Mikhail Porechenkov.
Latvia’s Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis said that in the past two months Latvia had blacklisted five Russians, and 30 Russians - since the beginning of the year.
As of today, Latvia’s blacklist of unwanted persons includes about 5,000 foreigners.