1 Aug 2022

Media manager lands on Russia's banned list after commenting on embassy prank

9:39 am on 1 August 2022

Russia's foreign ministry has banned 32 New Zealanders from entering its country, including the media manager of Wellington City Council.

The Moscow Kremlin is the best known of the kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. (Wikipedia)

Russia's Kremlin, Moscow. Photo: RNZI/Walter Zweifel

Russia's foreign ministry has banned 32 New Zealanders from entering its country in response to what the embassy has called a "Russophobic agenda".

The sanctions were issued against defence force leaders, journalists, city councillors, and mayors who have publicly opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But Wellington City Council media manager Richard Maclean was also on the list - although he said it may be someone else with his name.

Maclean told Morning Report he may have been included because of a tongue-in-cheek comment made to local media, but he had been left in the dark by Russian officials who have made no contact with him.

"Certainly there's been no correspondence with the Russian embassy or with anyone associated with the Russian Federation but we can only suspect that it was the result of a prank that was played early in March..."

In Karori, a street sign outside the Russian embassy on Messines Rd was changed to Zelenskiy Road - in honour of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

"We were asked by the local media what we thought of this and we expressed some sympathy for the people of Ukraine and said that Wellingtonians would probably be outraged by what was happening."

The list includes New Zealand's Military Secretary to the Minister of Defence, Shane Arndell, and other leading figures in the country's defence force as well as the mayors of Auckland, Christchurch and Nelson.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster and a local councillor were also on the list.

"I could possibly understand that but then reading it again I was thinking you've got to be joking here.

"I was not really planning on going to Russia anytime soon."

In April, Russia announced an earlier blacklist of politicians from New Zealand, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

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