Russia has blacklisted 32 other Kiwis – including defense force chiefs, mayors, councillors, academics and journalists – in response to what the embassy described as a “Russophobic agenda”.

The statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry said those on the list had been banned from entering Russia on an “indefinite basis” in response to New Zealand government sanctions being applied to “an increasing number of citizens Russians”.

The new list of banned Kiwis includes Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Wellington Mayor Andy Foster, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins, among other elected officials.

It also includes senior members of the New Zealand Defense Force, as well as academics and journalists – including four Things journalists and columnists.

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The blacklisting follows a series of sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine in February. The sanctions include the application of a 35% customs duty on all imports of Russian origin and a ban on the export of certain goods to Russia and Belarus, including products closely linked to strategic Russian industries.

The statement, posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website, also included a warning that more names could be added to the list of those subject to “personal sanctions” against them.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that it was not surprised that Russia had added new New Zealanders to its travel ban list.

“Aotearoa New Zealand, together with the international community, has applied severe sanctions against Russia to restrict the Putin regime’s ability to continue waging war on Ukraine and harming civilians.

“It is disappointing to see Russia deepen its isolation from the international community rather than engage with the clear message sent to it: end its senseless war of aggression in Ukraine and withdraw its troops.”

Earlier this year, 130 New Zealand politicians and officials – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians from all political parties, the Governor-General and military and spy chiefs – were also put on blacklisted by the Russian state.

The spokeswoman added that Russia had imposed numerous travel bans on the international community since the invasion of Ukraine and that the latest bans “should not be of significant concern to those named” as they do not concerned only their ability to travel to Russia.

Pressure is mounting on Russian President Vladimir Putin following his country's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.  (File photo)

Mikhail Metzel/AP

Pressure is mounting on Russian President Vladimir Putin following his country’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. (File photo)

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster said it was the first time he had been blacklisted by any country, adding that “it obviously means our sister city relationship with Moscow is broken”.

Speaking more seriously about the invasion of Ukraine, he said the capital had shown its support for Ukraine through a series of activities: a number of demonstrations, Ukrainian flags being unfurled – including in Parliament – lighting various civic monuments in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and organizing concerts for Ukraine.

“There are a number of things that happened in Wellington that are small, but symbolize our collective revulsion at what is happening with the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Foster said.

Demonstrations took place outside the Russian Embassy in Wellington against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  (File photo)

Things

Demonstrations took place outside the Russian Embassy in Wellington against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (File photo)

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he would wear the ban as a ‘badge of honour’ and described it as a symbol of ‘Russian impotence’ in terms of what it could do to countries like New Zealand who had come out against invading Ukraine.

“I was outspoken against Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and the destruction and murder of thousands and thousands of people,” he said.

Earlier this year, Auckland’s Sky Tower, Harbor Bridge and War Memorial Museum were lit up in blue and yellow to show solidarity with Ukraine.

Goff, who previously visited Russia in an official capacity as then-foreign minister, said he would not return to the current regime as long as the war in Ukraine continued. “I don’t miss anything.”

Auckland's Sky Tower displays blue and yellow lights in support of Ukraine.  (File photo)

Guy Grant / Stuff

Auckland’s Sky Tower displays blue and yellow lights in support of Ukraine. (File photo)

In Nelson, Mayor Rachel Reese and Councilors Matt Lawrey and Pete Rainey are also on the list.

“It’s strange,” Lawrey said. “It’s definitely not something I expected today.”

Lawrey said he assumed the reason for including the Nelson trio was two events he organized to show his support for the people of Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Reese spoke at both events while Rainey led a choir at the second.

“Both got national media coverage,” Lawrey said. “I am quietly delighted that the [Russian Foreign Ministry] took note of the good things we did in Nelson-Whakatū to support the people of Ukraine.

Rainey said he led a choir at Lawrey’s event and another choir at a church-sponsored Ukraine vigil, but did not recall ever speaking about Russia.

“It seems crazy that something so peaceful could lead to this kind of action,” Rainey said. “I find it hard to think of anything else it could be.”

André Chumko/Stuff

NZSO members played the Ukrainian national anthem in Civic Square before a crowd of around 150 people, during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Video first posted April 2022).

Reese said she met Ukrainian residents in Nelson early on and was asked to make a recording to send to the Ukrainian people. This video was widely circulated, she said.

It was a mayor’s responsibility to speak on behalf of the community, including people from different cultures, Reese said.

None of the three members said they intended to visit Russia before the ban.

The news came as equally surprising to Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins, who said it was the first time he had been banned from entering another country. “At least as far as I know. They may not all issue press releases.

He was unsure of the explanation for the ban, but said: “Whether it’s Putin’s invasion of Ukraine or the treatment of rainbow communities back home, I don’t see a moral compass worth stocking up on”.

The Ukrainian flag has flown from the council building since the invasion began, and Hawkins has spoken at some regular vigils held in the Octagon. “I want to make it clear that my problem is with Putin’s regime, not the Russian people.”

He said the country had always been on his list of places to visit with the Trans-Siberian Railway, a lifelong dream.

The New Zealand Defense Force, Ministry of Defense and Dalziel have been approached for comment, as has the Embassy of the Russian Federation.

The full list of banned New Zealanders:

  • John Anthony
  • Shane Arndell
  • Lianne Dalziel
  • Chris Darby
  • Andy Foster
  • Philip Bruce Goff
  • Garin Golding
  • Kate Green
  • Aaron Hawkings
  • Ian Hill
  • Stephen Hoadley
  • James Hollings
  • Matthew Houton
  • king of roses
  • Rob Kruchka
  • Matt Lawrey
  • Richard Maclean
  • Tracy Malholland
  • Thomas Channel
  • Hugh McAslan
  • Ian Mower
  • Brigitte Musker
  • Whena Owen
  • Shaun Sexton
  • Josie Pagani
  • Pete Rainey
  • Rachel Reese
  • Sharon Stewart
  • Pasanka Wickremasinghe
  • Matthew Weston
  • Mike Yardley
  • Nicholas Young