22:23 GMT22 June 2021
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    The Russian foreign ministry has emphasised that Moscow remains open to developing relations with Ottawa based on mutual respect.

    Moscow has blacklisted nine Candian citizens over "anti-Russian" policy, the Russian foreign ministry has announced.

    The decision was made in response "to the illegal sanctions imposed by the Canadian government on 24 March 2021 against citizens of the Russian Federation under the far-fetched pretext of allegedly persecuting Russian citizen Alexei Navalny", Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakahrova said.

    The list of individuals banned from entering Russia indefinitely includes Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti, Deputy Minister of National Defence Jody Thomas, Commissioner of the Correctional Service Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Brenda Lucki, Marci Surkes, who works as Executive Director of Policy and Cabinet Affairs to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Michael Roulaeu, Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Brian Brennan, and Commander of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command Scott Bishop.

    At the same time, Zakharova stressed that Moscow remains open to developing relations with Ottawa based on mutual respect, "with an emphasis on cooperation in such areas of mutual interests as the Arctic, regional and business ties."

    "Russia is invariably warm and treats the people of Canada with sympathy, despite the Russophobic sentiments cultivated by a part of its political class and some ‘groups of influence," Zakharova added.

    Back in March, Ottawa imposed sanctions on nine Russian officials over "gross and systematic violations of human rights in Russia", prompting Moscow to vow to retaliate.

    Navalny is serving his term in prison over probation breaches to his suspended sentence in the 2014 Yves Rocher fraud case. He has been complaining about severe back and leg pains and demanded a doctor of his own choice but was rejected. At the same time, he is refusing the treatment offered by the prison authorities.

    He went on a hunger strike at the end of March. His lawyer said that her client is suffering from two spinal hernias.

    The prison medics, however, assessed his condition as stable and satisfactory. The 44-year-old is receiving all the medical help he needs, they added.

    On 20 August, Alexei Navalny collapsed on a domestic flight in Russia. After being treated in the Siberian city of Omsk, he was transferred to the Berlin-based Charite hospital for further treatment. The German government said that doctors found traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group in his system. Moscow responded by pointing out the lack of evidence in Berlin's claims and noting that Russian doctors had found no toxic substances in Navalny.

    Alexei Navalny, blacklist, Russia, Canada
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