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The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to explain
The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to explain a ban on a Russian lawmaker entering Ukraine, a source in the ministry said on Friday.

"The Ukrainian ambassador has been summoned to appear at 4:00 p.m. [12:00 GMT] to explain the ban on Konstantin Zatulin entering Ukraine," the source said.

Zatulin was with a large delegation including Russian MPs, cosmonauts, and businessmen intending to take part in a local tennis tournament when he was detained at Simferopol airport in the Crimea in the south of Ukraine on Thursday.

Russia's Foreign Ministry later said in a statement that the refusal to allow Zatulin onto Ukrainian territory was "a flagrant manifestation of an unfriendly attitude toward a prominent public figure and member of the Russian parliament."

Zatulin, along with outspoken fellow MP, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, was earlier listed as a persona non grata by Ukrainian authorities after his involvement in 2006 protests in the Crimea against joint NATO-Ukraine Sea Breeze military exercises in the Black Sea. He also called the presence of U.S. troops in Crimea "illegal under Ukrainian law."

Sea Breeze 2008 began last Monday in Ukraine's Odessa, Crimea and Black Sea coastal regions and has been hit by a series of protests and demonstrations.

Zatulin's persona non grata status was annulled however when Moscow and Kiev mutually scrapped lists of "undesirables" in 2007.

A Ukrainian border service spokesman said that the MP had been forbidden from entering the territory of the former Soviet republic by the country's state security services.

"Zatulin is currently at a Customs Service checkpoint in connection with a law enforcement agency order," said Serhiy Astakhov.

"He spent the night in the VIP waiting lounge. It was planned that he would fly back to Moscow at 8:00 a.m. This did not occur," he added.

He confirmed that a stamp banning Zatulin from entering Ukraine for a year had been put in the MP's passport on Thursday.

Although the Ukrainian authorities have insisted that Zatulin leave the country, they have declined to provide him with a ticket. The Russian MP has refused, as a matter of principle, to pay for his return flight.

"If, God forbid, I was sentenced to be shot, I would not be obliged to pay for the bullet and the services of the firing squad," said Zatulin.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has declined to comment.

Ukraine's Parliamentary Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk apologized to Zatulin two weeks ago for "problems" that the country's security services had caused him during a "Friendship Group" meeting between Russian and Ukrainian MPs in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa.

Ukraine's state security services barred Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov on May 12 from entering the former Soviet republic over his 'provocative' comments regarding the ownership of the Black Sea city of Sevastopol. Moscow's mayor also made strong calls for a naval base in Sevastopol to be handed back to Russia.


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