France has defied an EU travel ban and granted a visa to Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev, despite the fact he is blacklisted from entering the bloc due to his support of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
The Russian ministry confirmed Tkachev had been granted a French visa to head the Russian delegation at the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris, which began Sunday, Reuters reported.
Tkachev has been on the list of individuals banned from entering the EU since July 2014. The list targets people and firms accused of supporting Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Tkachev, then the head of Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, was added to the list after being “awarded the medal ‘for the liberation of Crimea’ by the acting head of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea for the support he provided to the unlawful annexation of Crimea,” according to the EU’s explanation of his travel ban.
“On that occasion, the acting head of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea said that [Tkachev] was one of the first to express his support to the new ‘leadership’ of Crimea,” the EU list explains.
It was not immediately clear why France granted Tkachev a visa, Reuters reported.
Germany refused him entry in January, citing the EU sanctions list.
Last month, France’s lower house of parliament adopted a resolution calling on the EU to lift economic sanctions against Russia. Those behind the resolution, which has no direct impact on French or EU policy, said the sanctions were bad for the French economy and particularly for farmers, who can’t export to Russia.
In March, the EU sanctions were prolonged until September, though they can be extended further.