Ukraine's security service on Thursday banned former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from entering the country for three years, according to Ukrainian and Russian media reports, after Berlusconi visited the Crimean Peninsula with Russian Presdident Vladimir Putin last week.
The Italian media mogul spent two days in the former Ukrainian territory, which was annexed by Russia last year, and as a consequence has now been banned from traveling to Ukraine "to ensure national security interests," Russian news agency Tass reported.
— Новое Время (@tweetsNV) September 17, 2015
"A resolution was issued to ban Italian citizen Silvio Berlusconi from entering the territory of Ukraine for the duration of three years in the interests of preserving the security of our country," the agency said in a statement quoted by Ukraine's Apostrof internet portal and carried by Reuters. A document appearing to ban Berlusconi also circulated online but Newsweek could not independently verify it.
While in Crimea, Putin and Berlusconi laid flowers at a war memorial for soliders who died in the 1853 Crimean War and also had dinner at an open air restaurant with Crimeans of Italian descent.
This is the third time that Berlusconi and Putin have met this year. The Russian leader traveled to Rome in June to meet with Pope Francis, Italian leaders and Berlusconi. The former Italian prime minister had previously hosted Putin and his family at his villa on the Italian island of Sardinia.
On Wednesday, Ukraine announced that it had banned a number of Western journalists from entering the country for promoting "terrorist activities." Two British BBC journalists and a BBC cameraman were banned for one year from the country but Judith Gough, the British ambassador to Ukraine, confirmed on Twitter that the BBC journalists would be removed from the decree.
Just spoken to President @Poroshenko. BBC journalists will be removed from the sanctions list. Welcome move.
— Judith Gough (@JudithGoughFCO) September 17, 2015
Other journalists added to the Ukrainian blacklist included two Spanish journalists, while Russian state news channels Rossiya-24, Channel One and NTV were also named on the list.
Russian officials, including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian parliamentary speaker Sergei Naryshkin and the head of the Russian foreign affairs committee Alexei Pushkov were also banned.