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    Mining town of Barentsburg on Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

    Oslo to Amend Legislation to Stop Sanctioned Officials’ Svalbard Visits

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    Norway will introduce changes to its legislation to prevent blacklisted individuals from legally staying in the Arctic Ocean's Svalbard archipelago after a high-profile Russian official sanctioned by Oslo paid a visit to the islands last week, a spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik Tuesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Norway will introduce changes to its legislation to prevent blacklisted individuals from legally staying in the Arctic Ocean's Svalbard archipelago after a high-profile Russian official sanctioned by Oslo paid a visit to the islands last week, a spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik Tuesday.

    On Saturday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin visited the Russian mining community of Barentsburg on Spitsbergen, the largest island of Svalbard archipelago. On Sunday, Norway said the visit was "regrettable" and threatened expanding sanctions against Russian officials, imposed over the crisis in Ukraine.

    The Svalbard archipelago is under the full sovereignty of Norway. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday that Oslo's opposition to Rogozin's trip was unfounded, citing the 1920 Svalbard treaty.

    "We will now make the necessary changes in Norwegian legislation so that it would not be possible for people included in sanctions lists to legally stay in Svalbard. This will apply to persons from any country that is sanctioned by Norway on the basis of international rules," Head of communications at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry Frode Andersen said.

    Andersen, who is also a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Borge Brende, said that Oslo has made it clear that blacklisted individuals are not wanted on Svalbard.

    "In light of this, it is regrettable that Russia does not comply with a clear request from a neighbor," Andersen said.

    He added that Oslo wishes to maintain a good relationship with Moscow, which he said depends on mutual respect.

    Last year, Norway, along with the European Union and the United States, introduced economic restrictions and individual sanctions against certain Russian officials suspected of fuelling the internal armed conflict in Ukraine. Russia has firmly dismissed the allegations.

    In August 2014, in response to the Western sanctions, Moscow imposed a year-long ban on the import of a range of food items from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway.

    Related:

    Norway to Summon Russian Ambassador Over Deputy PM's Svalbard Trip
    Norway Says Russian Deputy Prime Minister's Svalbard Visit 'Regrettable'
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    visit, Dmitry Rogozin, Svalbard, Norway, Russia
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