MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/. Russia will take retaliatory steps in response to any expansion of restrictive measures against Russian citizens, deputy head of the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said on Monday.
The diplomat said such measures are based on "the principle of reciprocity." "We must respond to any completely biased and actually unmotivated attitude," she said on the Russian News Service radio.
"We were forced to take retaliatory measures, responding to the US and EU actions. We’ve talked about the list’s formation principle. We’ve also said that this is a forced step that we don’t like. We expressed the hope that when the passion about the United States’ and EU lists simmers down, we’ll also cancel our lists," said Zakharova.
"Eighteen months ago, we started to regularly speak not only through diplomatic channels, but also publicly that we had to take retaliatory steps in response to the US and EU actions," she said. "You can find in the media the quotes of senior diplomats - representatives of the minister, Russia’s permanent representatives to international organisations - saying clearly why we do it. When we were asked to pass these lists for the convenience of European officials, and we did, such a scandal was raised. We can only guess why."
Meanwhile, according to Zakharova, the hype around the "blacklist" has coincided with a period of relative stabilisation of relations between Russia and the West. "Once the situation calms down, as soon as we begin a constructive dialogue on the Minsk agreements and also on other matters - there is the impression that someone is just itching to start another informational controversy all of a sudden," the diplomat said.
On May 30, Moscow confirmed sending to the European Union member countries a list of persons who are denied entry to Russia. The list includes 89 names. A number of EU states have turned to Russian embassies requesting explanations about the "blacklisted" persons.