Members of the Russian delegation Helsinki were almost entirely absent as the Barents Parliamentary Conference wrapped up in Helsinki Wednesday.
The Russian no-show was a response to EU sanctions and travel bans over the country’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
Parliamentarians and NGO representatives from the Barents area, the Nordics, other EU countries and Canada assembled in Helsinki for the three-day meeting of the Barents Parliamentary Conference in Helsinki.
Although a large Russian delegation had been invited to the event, just one representative from Archangel in northwest Russia turned up for the talk shop that began on Monday and ended Wednesday.
Sources told Yle that the Russian contingent notified conference organisers that they would not attend the event as a countermeasure to EU sanctions and travel restrictions imposed against high-profile individuals close to the Russian political leadership.
Russians irked by invitation to blacklisted high-ranking official
According to information received by Yle the Russians pointed to what they called a blunder by organisers, who issued an invitation to Valentina Matviyenko, chair of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, the Federation Council, and who was placed on a travel blacklist.
The organisers later tried to re-direct the invitation to another invitee, further aggravating the Russians, Yle reported.
During the summer another Russian contingent boycotted a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE.
At that time the Finnish government decided not to temporarily waive a travel restriction placed on Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian Parliament, the Duma. The incident sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Related stories from around the North:
Denmark: Faroe Islands cashing in on Russian sanctions, Barents Observer
Finland: “Cold war looming, sanctions our best bet,” says Finland’s PM, Yle News
Norway: Russian sanctions hit Norway hard, Barents Observer
Russia: Sanctions menace offshore oil security says Russia, Barents Observer
Sweden: Sweden’s dairy farmers hit hard by sanctions against Russia, Radio Sweden
United States: New US sanctions against Russian oil, Barents Observer