(HARTFORD, Conn.) — U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut says the Russian government has denied him a visa to enter the country.
The Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday he had planned to be part of an upcoming bipartisan congressional delegation. Murphy has described himself as a “tough critic” of Russia.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin planned to be part of the same group and announced Monday that he was also denied a visa. Johnson said he had planned to speak with government officials, American businesses and others during his trip. The Republican is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation.
A news release from Johnson’s office didn’t say when he had planned to visit Russia or name the other members of the congressional delegation. Johnson spokesman Aaren Johnson said the trip had been planned for next week and the delegation had planned to visit several countries. He said he was unable to say why Johnson was denied a visa.
An email to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., inquiring about the denial bounced back as undeliverable Monday. No one immediately responded to another email sent to a different address for the embassy. Calls to the building couldn’t connect.
Ron Johnson has spoken in the past of Russia taking “a dark turn” under Putin, and he criticized the Russian president sharply in announcing the visa denial.
He and fellow Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming were granted visas in 2017 to visit Russia in January 2018 but canceled the trip after another member of their delegation, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, was denied. Shaheen has been an outspoken supporter of measures meant to counter Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. The Russian Embassy said at the time that Shaheen’s request was rejected because she is on a black list created in response to U.S. sanctions.
Murphy says he believes “it’s important to maintain dialogue, especially during moments of tension.”
He calls it unfortunate the Russian government is “further isolating their country” by blocking this and other visits in recent months.