TALLINN – Maria Zakharova, official spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has described Estonia as a "dictatorship" in the wake of the country's decision to slap an entry ban on members of the Russian pop group Ruki Vverh, Postimees reported, citing Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
"We have to ask the question, what is wrong with Estonia? If a country takes pride in itself and talks about cultural ties, but at the same time someone is forbidden to perform in that country, then there is something wrong with that country," RIA Novosti quoted Zakharova as saying.
Zakharova noted that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia declared democracy its main idea.
"Now they themselves have become a repressive state that forbids, blinds, blocks, does not let in, relocates and so on," Zakharova said. She added that the band, which has been banned from performing in Estonia, does not break the law, does not call for extremism, does not promote any destructive values.
"This is pure censorship. I congratulate the country that chose freedom and reached a dictatorship," Zakharova said.
Estonia has imposed a five year ban on entry on members of Ruki Vverh, which Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu deems the only acceptable outcome.
One of the members of the band, which rose to fame in the late 1990s but has since dissolved, managed to attend a club event in Estonia last Friday. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently initiated the cancellation of the members' visas.
Reinsalu said that Russia is attacking Ukraine at every opportunity and continuing its massacre in order to try and meet its unjustifiable goals in Ukraine, and it is unacceptable.
"Tourism and leisure trips for Russian nationals are not warranted, particularly hosting Russian artists who visit regions in Ukraine that have been occupied by Russia and perform concerts in support of the occupiers," the minister said.
"Estonia's support to Ukraine is steadfast and Putin's terror against Ukraine and Ukrainians is also a threat to the security of Estonia and Europe," he added.
Estonia has previously imposed five-year entry bans on Russian artists such as Philipp Kirkorov and Polina Gagarina.