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Norway asks Russia to explain 'unjustifiable' denial of visas to MPs

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Norway asks Russia to explain 'unjustifiable' denial of visas to MPs
Bård Vegar Solhjell (right) and Trine Skei Grande (centre) were refused visas by Russia. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix
09:09 CET+01:00
Norway on Wednesday summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge a formal protest after Moscow refused visas to two senior MPs in a move Oslo denounced as "unjustifiable".
"It's unreasonable and unjustifiable that these Norwegian members of parliament have been refused visas," Foreign Minister Børge Brende told reporters.
 
The Norwegian parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, of which the two MPS were members, has cancelled a planned two-day trip to Moscow that was due to start on Thursday. The committee has 17 members in all.
 
Moscow said it refused visas to Bard Vegar Solhjell, leader of the Socialist Left party (SV), and Trine Skei Grande, leader of the centre-right Venstre party, over Norway's participation in EU economic sanctions against Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis, although the Nordic nation is not a member of the bloc.
 
"Russia's decision was a response," said Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament's upper house.
 
"Moreover, in some cases, Russian lawmakers wanting to visit Norway have been refused visas," Ria Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.
 
Ties between the neighbouring countries have been fraught recently over the Syrian conflict, the transit of migrants through Russian territory and the deployment of US troops in Norway as well as Ukraine.
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