MOSCOW - Russia has placed a U.S. lawmaker and 12 other people connected with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq on its list of those banned from entering the country.
In a statement Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said congressman Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, was banned in response to the July 2 U.S. ban on Russian parliament member Adam Delimkhanov. He said Moran had been repeatedly accused of financial misdeeds but didn't elaborate.
The other 12, including Guantanamo commander Rear Adm. Richard Butler and Lynndie England, a former soldier convicted of abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib, were banned in response to the United States' adding 12 names in May to the so-called Magnitsky List of Russians sanctioned for human rights abuses.
Retired Brig. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded U.S. ground forces in Iraq in 2003-2004, retired Col. Janis Karpinsky whose command included the Abu Ghraib prison, and Gladys Kessler, a federal judge who rejected a Guantanamo inmate's complaint of being force-fed while on hunger strike, were also included.
Moran said he suspects the ban was due to his sponsoring an amendment to a defense appropriations bill approved by the House that bars the U.S. purchase of helicopters from Rosoboronexport, the Russian state arms dealer which he accused of being "the principal supplier to the Assad regime in Syria."
"While this does clarify my overseas travel plans, it seems that the Putin regime would be better served by addressing the consequences of encouraging and enabling Donetsk separatists to perform such a heinous act of cold blooded cruelty or utter incompetence that resulted in the mass murder of nearly 300 innocent civilians," said Moran, in a statement released Saturday.
Moran said he has no plans to travel to Russia.
The Malaysian airliner was shot down Thursday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist rebels accuse each other of shooting down the Boeing 777 with a surface-to-air missile. Many see the hand of Russia, either for its alleged support of the insurgents or perhaps firing the missile itself. The crash site is near the Russian border.