While the list was first handed over to EU representatives in Moscow on Thursday, it is thought that ban has been in place for some time, according to Elena Namli, a professor at the Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University.
“We knew there was a list, and the EU has tried to find out who was on it,” she told the TT news agency. “Now that we know who’s on it, we have been trying to find out why.”
But she added she has strong suspicions about the reasons, namely as a response to EU sanctions and travel bans related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year and its alleged involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict – involvement which Russia strongly denies.
“[Those on the list] are people who have strongly pushed for a tough European policy against Russia, so there is a certain logic to it,” she said.
On Friday, the Swedish Foreign Ministry contacted the Russian embassy in Stockholm asking why the eight Swedes had appeared on the list, according to Erik Boman, press secretary for Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
“We’re still waiting for an answer,” he said.
Some European politicians on the blacklist have said they are proud to be there and would continue speaking out against Russian policy in Ukraine.
“Being on this list does not change my commitment to the people of Ukraine,” said Sweden’s Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, a European parliamentarian and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a tweet.
“I have more to be proud of than to be afraid of!…Putin's list is a confirmation that I am doing right as a parliamentarian,” the centre-right politician, married to Sweden's former foreign minister Carl Bildt, added.
The eight Swedes on the list are:
- Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, EU parliamentarian
- Gunnar Hökmark, EU parliamentarian
- Gunnar Karlsson, director of Sweden’s Military Intelligence and Security Service
- Odd Werin, rear admiral, military representative to NATO and the EU
- Lena Adelsohn-Leljeroth, former culture minister
- Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, former parliamentarian
- Eva Liedström Adler, chief enforcement director, Swedish Enforcement Authority
- Magnus Söderman, figure linked to a Swedish neo-Nazi party