VIENNA, July 1 /TASS/. Andrey Kelin, Russia’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said on Wednesday that Finland had refused to issue entry visas to the Russian delegates of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session under a far-fetched pretext.
"We received an official reply from the Finnish Foreign Ministry that those visas would not be issued under a far-fetched pretext: this is how the Finnish side interprets provisions on the EU sanctions documents. That move was ill-intentioned," Kelin said.
Six members of the Russian parliamentary delegation were denied entry visas, Kelin said.
They include three key participants — Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin; Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Links with Compatriots residing abroad; and Alexey Pushkov, the head of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee.
Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said earlier on Wednesday that the entire Russian delegation would refuse to attend the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Helsinki in sign of protest.
Reaction at Finland's move
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday that the Russian delegation’s refusal to attend an OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Helsinki could be compared to the famous "U-turn over the Atlantic" made by Russia’s deceased politician Yevgeny Primakov in 1999 in protest against NATO’s bombardments of former Yugoslavia.
"The reaction of our parliamentarians to the European Union’s humiliation of the very idea of our common European parliamentarianism is also a kind of U-turn over the Baltic States or over Europe," Kosachev wrote on his page in Facebook.
"It is the same decent and politically balanced step that was made in [Yevgeny] Primakov’s time when our country was defending the UN and OSCE principles from encroachments on the part of Washington and Brussels in connection with the events in the former Yugoslavia," the lawmaker stressed.
In 1999, the then Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov turned his plane around over the Atlantic and abandoned his trip to the United States in protest against NATO’s bombardments of Yugoslavia.
Kosachev praised the reaction of his Federation Council colleagues who immediately abandoned their planned trips to Helsinki in manifestation of protest. "We were right at that time [in 1999] and we are absolutely right now," the head of the Federation Council Committee stressed.