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Sanctioned Russians get itchy feet Are Russians hit by the travel sanctions starting to feel a little claustrophobic? Some of them are challenging the travel restrictions. As Fiona Clark reports, one is even suing the EU to try to get them removed.
Well, what a difference a year makes. Perhaps, as the crystal blue seas of the Mediterranean become a dim and fading memory and the realization that the relentless Russian winter is almost upon them, some appear to be getting itchy feet.
One of the most controversial figures whose movements abroad have been hampered, Dmitri Kiselev (pictured above), is taking the European Union to court to get the sanction against him lifted. He is arguing that it represents a violation of freedom of speech.
Kiselev, a Kremlin propagandist who runs the media outlet Rossiya Sevodnya (Russia Today or RT), is well known for his outrageous diatribes. Two of the most memorable include reminding viewers on his weekly television program that Russia is still the only country in the world capable of reducing the United States to 'radioactive dust.'
To drive his point home he stood in front of a giant screen showing a mushroom cloud produced by a nuclear explosion. That was in response to America's condemnation of Russia's referendum on the future of Crimea. Prior to that, he had advocated that gay men's hearts should be buried or burned because they were unfit to prolong life if used in organ donation.
Kiselev was one of a group of about a dozen Russian business leaders or influential figures who were sanctioned after the annexation of Crimea. The sanctions ban travel to many Western countries, and freeze any assets that may be held in the EU or US. Kiselev claims that he isn't high profile enough to warrant such an action against him, and that no reason was given for the imposition of the sanctions on him in particular.
Confirming his lawsuit against the EU, he said: "Yes, we want to challenge the EU's unjustified decisions infringing on the freedom of speech. I believe this precedent should be abolished in the name of Europe itself."
His lawyers are arguing that the sanctions "restrict his ability to exercise his right to freedom of expression as well as the operation of the news agency."
RT's consistent denials under his leadership of Russian troop involvement in Donbas and claims of a lack of evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight, MH17, may end up weakening his argument.
His decision comes hot on the heels of Putin's intervention to get a humanitarian visa for Iosef (Joseph) Kobzon, a member of parliament and Russia's answer to Frank Sinatra, so he could get treatment for his prostate cancer in Italy.
Kobzon, whose toupee rivals that of Donald Trump's hair-do, was a supporter of banning US adoption of Russian children, many of whom are disabled or HIV positive and could have benefited from medical treatment in America. Last week he called for diplomatic ties to be broken with the US completely. He is an active supporter of the pro-Russian forces in Donbass in Ukraine and is originally from that area.
The granting of the visa has sparked outrage among ordinary Russians who are clearly seeing that some people are definitely more equal than others. They've labelled Kobzon a hypocrite as they are condemned to endure treatment in under-resourced and antiquated Russian hospitals, while he gets first-class treatment in a foreign country.
A survey by the radio station Ekho Moskvy found that 82 percent of listeners thought Kobzon should not be allowed to travel abroad for treatment.
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Better get plenty of itch powder, as until your dwarf leader deflates botox chest it'll get worse. Take your leader out and it might be considered for you to go fly over the Kerch.
I'd love to see sanctions put on his networks like RT in the US.