Russia has banned a Montenegrin government official from entering the country in response to Podgorica granting political asylum to a Russian businessman, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website.
The businessman, Telman Ismailov, is wanted in Russia for allegedly ordering contract murders. Local media in Montenegro reported in October that Ismailov was granted political asylum after being detained in Podgorica on an international arrest warrant issued by Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it sent a note on February 2 to the embassy in Moscow informing Montenegro that Russia had responded by banning Interior Ministry official Zoran Miljanic.
“This measure is a response to the unfriendly move taken by the country’s authorities in October 2021, [when they] granted political asylum to a citizen of the Russian Federation, Telman Ismailov, who was put on an international wanted list by Interpol for committing particularly serious crimes on the territory of the Russian Federation,” the statement said.
The note said Russia was responding to the “hostile step” of Montenegro granting asylum to Ismailov, who was born in Azerbaijan.
Ismailov is not currently on Interpol’s most-wanted list. Interpol did not respond to a request from RFE/RL for information on whether he is still wanted.
Milos Vuksanovic, Ismailov’s lawyer, told RFE/RL in October that his client had nothing to do with the murder of two businessmen in Moscow, and that the Russian arrest warrant had been issued as “a result of political and economic persecution by the Russian Federation,” which is why Ismailov had sought asylum in Montenegro./RFE/RL/