20 Jan 2023

Russia sanctions Clarke Gayford, media executives over 'propaganda'

3:35 pm on 20 January 2023
Clarke Gayford in Gisborne - Labour Party campaigning

Jacinda Ardern's fiancee Clarke Gayford is now barred from visiting Russia. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson is among 31 New Zealanders, many of them journalists, sanctioned by the Russian Federation over "anti-Russian agenda".

Also on the list, released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, are NZME chief executive Michael Boggs, Stuff owner Sinead Boucher, TVNZ chief executive Simon Power, NZME editor-in-charge Shayne Currie, and Tova O'Brien of Today FM, who conducted an interview with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky.

David Cohen, who is a regular media contributor, and Clarke Gayford, the partner of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, are being sanctioned as well.

A number of news executives who run newsrooms in the major outlets in New Zealand are on the list too, including Stuff's Mark Stevens and Joanna Norris, and TVNZ head of content Cate Slater.

Former minister of defence Ron Mark, who went to help deliver humanitarian aid in Ukraine last year, was also on the list.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said those sanctioned were now indefinitely blocked from entering Russia.

The ministry also cited New Zealand's sanctions against Russians and legal entities as a reason for the move.

It also stated it would look at updating the list due to the "anti-Russian" politics.

"Taking into account the fact that official Wellington does not intend to abandon the anti-Russian course and continues to produce new sanctions measures, work on updating the Russian "stop list" will continue."

This is not the first time Russia has issued a sanctions list since its invasion of Ukraine.

Last July, it banned 32 mayors, military people and journalists who it said were leading a "Russophobic agenda" in this country.

In April, it banned more than 130 people, mostly parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor-General Cindy Kiro.

The sanctions on New Zealanders appear to be part of a wider roll-out around the world.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has banned senior European officials from entering Russia, as well. Most are senior officials from military agencies of EU countries involved in the training of Ukrainian troops.

But the list also includes European entities that manufacture and supply weapons and military equipment to Kyiv, and citizens and journalists of EU countries "who engage in systematic public anti-Russian rhetoric," the ministry said in a statement.

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson is among the 31 on the list. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas