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Montenegro official prevented from traveling through Moscow

Associated Press logo Associated Press 29/05/2017
FILE - A Friday, Oct. 27, 2000 file photo of Miodrag Vukovic, President of the ruling Montenegrin DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists) at the news conference in Podgorica, Montenegro. Lawmaker Vukovic says he was kept overnight in a transit zone at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow while on his way to an international meeting in Belarus. He returned to Montenegro on Monday, May 29, 2017. The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry says the incident “represents a breach of basic international rules and diplomatic practices.” (AP Photo/Risto Bozovic, File) © The Associated Press FILE - A Friday, Oct. 27, 2000 file photo of Miodrag Vukovic, President of the ruling Montenegrin DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists) at the news conference in Podgorica, Montenegro. Lawmaker Vukovic says he was kept overnight in a transit zone at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow while on his way to an international meeting in Belarus. He returned to Montenegro on Monday, May 29, 2017. The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry says the incident “represents a breach of basic international rules and diplomatic practices.” (AP Photo/Risto Bozovic, File)

PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro on Monday strongly protested "inappropriate" conduct by Russian authorities against a senior ruling party leader who was prevented from changing planes at a Moscow airport.

Lawmaker Miodrag Vukovic said he was kept overnight in a transit zone at Domodedovo International Airport while on his way to an international meeting in Belarus. He returned to Montenegro on Monday.

The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador, telling him the incident "represents a breach of basic international rules and diplomatic practices."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin imposed the ban against Vukovic because Montenegro had joined Western sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

"It's not a secret that Montenegro joined the European Union's anti-Russian sanctions, including against (Russian) individuals," Zakharova said on the Foreign Ministry's website.

"We have always said that we reserve the right to take retaliatory measures on the basis of reciprocity, as is customary in diplomacy," she said. "We will provide a relevant explanation to the Montenegrin side."

Vukovic said the incident was politically motivated.

Montenegro previously was a close ally of Russia, but is set to become NATO's 29th member in June. Russia has threatened economic and political retaliation against the small nation.

Montenegro says that Russia was behind a foiled coup attempt in October to prevent it from joining NATO, which Moscow denies.

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