MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A U.S. senator from Wisconsin who has publicly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia has denied him a visa to visit as part of a congressional delegation.
Ron 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’s 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 wouldn’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 his 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 drawn up in response to U.S. sanctions.