Former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul banned from entering Russia

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Nov. 12, 2016 at 10:06 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A former U.S. ambassador to Russia has been placed on the Kremlin's sanctions list and banned from entering the country, a move he believes is retaliation for his "close affiliation with [U.S. President Barack] Obama."

Michael McFaul, now a professor at Stanford University in California and a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, took to social media to confirm the ban.

"Was told that I am the Kremlin's sanctions list because of my close affiliation with Obama. I will take that as a compliment! The U.S. sanctioned Russians close to Putin. To the best of my knowledge, George Kennan was the last U.S. ambassador to USSR/Russia to be banned from traveling there. Good company! Hope that I am not on the Russia travel ban list forever. Since 1983, I've been living in and traveling to that country," he said on Facebook.

McFaul, who was an envoy to Moscow from 2012 to 2014, said he learned of the ban when he applied for a visa in December to travel to Moscow "to do Clinton transition work."

"No longer needed!," he said on Twitter, alluding to Democrat Hillary Clinton's defeat by Republican Donald Trump for the presidency.

Officials told Tass, Russia's news agency, McFaul has not been put on the blacklist because of his close affiliation with Obama, but "because of his active participation in wrecking bilateral relations and as a consistent lobbyist of the campaign of exerting pressure on Russia." Russia has imposed travel bans on a number of American officials since the United States passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which imposes financial and visa sanctions on corrupt Russian officials. The news agency said McFaul was put on the blacklist more than two years ago, during the early onset of the Magnitsky Act.

"Michael McFaul is really on the tit-for-tat sanction list, and he was aware of that," an official told Tass. "He was put on that list in response to the United States' visa restrictions against Russian nationals."

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