Vladimir Putin's Olympics snub welcomed by British MPs

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be coming to the London Olympics.

British MPs, who have campaigned against human rights abuses in Russia, immediately welcomed the snub.

Former Europe minister Denis MacShane claimed it was a way for the newly-sworn president to avoid pressure on Syria.

He said: "Putin now realises that he is not welcome in London because of Russia's flagrant rejection of European values and norms and failure to investigate and punish officials who violate rule of law."

It is possible that prime minister Dmitry Medvedev may attend the Games which kick off with the opening ceremony on July 27.

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The death of anti-corruption campaigner and lawyer Sergei Magnitsky has also triggered major diplomatic tensions with Russia.

Mr Magnitsky insisted on investigating crooked transactions. He was arrested in 2008 and jailed. Placed in brutal conditions, his health deteriorated, but he was deprived of medical assistance. He died aged 37 in 2009.

Post mortem photographs showed he was badly beaten shortly before he died.

The US has barred 60 individuals linked to Mr Magnitsky's death from entering the country.

The Dutch parliament has voted for a similar ban, the Swiss authorities have frozen the assets of a number of the Russian individuals, and UK backbenchers earlier this year approved a motion to bar entry to the group and have their UK assets frozen.

Mr MacShane said: "In his first foreign policy statement after he switched from prime minister to president, Putin said a priority was to protect state officials from being named and banned from entering Britain, the US and other democracies.

"The House of Commons called for precisely this action in a unanimous resolution about those responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitksy and Putin's petulant announcement is in response to this campaign.

"It is also clear that Putin does not want to discuss how Russia can help put pressure on Syria. Russia is becoming more nationalistic and authoritarian under Putin's never-ending rule."

PA

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