Russia and Ukraine have ended a mutual "blacklist" of undesirable visitors from each other's countries in a further sign of improving relations, Ukrainian newspapers said on Tuesday.
On the Russian side, they include powerful Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov who was barred in May 2008 from entering Ukraine after calling for the Crimean port of Sevastopol to be returned to Russia, the newspaper Ekonomicheskiye Izvestiya said.
Another, it said, was Russian parliamentary deputy Konstantin Zatulin whom the Ukrainian government accused of trying to stir up ethnic violence and of working against Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Both men were blacklisted by the administration of pro-western former president Viktor Yushchenko.
But President Viktor Yanukovich, elected in February, has made improving ties with Ukraine's former Soviet master a priority and taken several steps to tilt policy back towards Moscow.
Other prominent Russians barred by Ukraine in the past include maverick Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He was blacklisted in 2006 after comments he made over a Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute though this ban was lifted a year later.
Russia matched Ukraine's actions by barring several Ukrainian politicians including Petro Poroshenko, briefly foreign minister under Yushchenko, the newspaper said.
Ukrainian government sources say Luzhkov quickly benefited from the lifting of the ban to visit Ukraine at the weekend to join in birthday celebrations for Yanukovich who turned 60 last Friday.
A spokesman for the SBU state security service would not comment on the issue but denied the existence of "blacklists". "We do not have any official statement about the lists of people banned from entering Ukraine," SBU spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko said.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 13 Temmuz 2010, 14:34