Ukraine Ex-FM Slams Official's Blacklisting As Kremlin Pressure

KIEV, Ukraine -- A former Ukrainian foreign minister said Monday that Russia's purported decision to blacklist Volodymyr Ohryzko is an attempt to foil his confirmation by parliament as the new foreign minister.

Ukraine's Ex-Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk

A Russian media outlet reported that Ohryzko, Ukraine's acting foreign minister, could be banned from entering Russia.

"When an official upholds the positions of his state in relations with the Russian Federation, that may not serve as grounds for declaring him persona non grata," Borys Tarasyuk said.

He also said the move be seen as pressure on the Ukrainian parliament when it votes on Ohryzko's candidacy as foreign minister.

Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a tit-for-tat diplomatic row.

Russian authorities earlier turned away Petro Poroshenko, a member of the Our Ukraine party, who had traveled to St. Petersburg on a private visit February 3.

The pro-Western party stood behind the "orange revolution" of 2004, when the Kremlin-backed presidential candidate was defeated.

An outspoken television journalist, Mikhail Leontyev, 47, was banned by the Ukrainian National Security Service from entering the ex-Soviet nation in July.

The Ukrainian Security Service said Leontyev, known for making acerbic remarks about Ukraine on a short TV program after the main news on Channel One, was barred for violating regulations of foreigners' stay in Ukraine.

Other victims of the Ukrainian ban included the nationalist leader of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and MP Konstantin Zatulin.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine became tense following the "orange revolution," which brought Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko to power.

The two nations also became embroiled in an energy dispute at the beginning of last year after Moscow, which supported Yushchenko's rival Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 presidential race, raised gas prices for its former ally.

However, diplomatic ties have somewhat thawed since Yanukovych's appointment as prime minister in August of last year. The premier has steadily consolidated his authority, with parliament sacking president-appointed ministers and passing a Cabinet law to slash the president's powers.

Source: Moldova Org