TORONTO — Irwin Cotler, a Canadian-Jewish lawmaker, expressed his pleasure at being banned by Russia.
Cotler was among 13 Canadians to appear on the blacklist issued Monday.
“I wear my exclusion from Russia as a badge of honor and am proud to be in such distinguished company,” Cotler, also a veteran human rights activist, said in a statement. “I have no intention of visiting Siberia. I have no investments in Sochi. I have no desire to visit Moscow.”
It was not the first time that Cotler, who gained prominence for representing Jewish refuseniks from the Soviet era, has been banned from Russian soil. He was expelled from the Soviet Union and banned in 1979 while advocating on behalf of political prisoners, including Natan Sharansky.
Cotler said the blacklisting “only inspires me to redouble my efforts to advance the cause of human rights for all.”
“I stand in solidarity with the Russian people and those fighting for human rights and democracy. Their day will come and [President Vladimir] Putin will be no more,” he said.
Cotler suspects the ban is for introducing a bill regarding Sergei Magnitsky, who was an accountant and auditor in Moscow who uncovered a corruption scheme and testified against several senior Russian officials, according to the Huffington Post. Magnitsky subsequently was imprisoned and died in jail in 2009 at 37.
Cotler chairs an intraparliamentary group on Magnitsky and said that is like a “red flag” to Russia.
“My sense is that’s probably the retaliatory reason in my case,” Cotler told HuffPost.