EU condemns Russia over Nemtsov funeral bans

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EU condemns Russia over Nemtsov funeral bans
Russian police have tightened security around a museum where the funeral of murdered Putin critic Boris Nemtsov is due to take place.
People stand in a line to attend a farewell ceremony to the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on March 3, 2015. Russia vowed on March 2 to find the killers of outspoken opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as fresh details emerged about the most shocking political assassination during Vladimir Putin's rule. Nemtsov's body will lie in state on March 3 at the Andrei Sakharov rights centre in Moscow, followed by his burial at the city's Troekurovskoye cemetery. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk to pay their respects at the place where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin, with St. Basils Cathedral is in the background in Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 2, 2015. The investigation into the killing of Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was gunned down not far from the Kremlin, faced conflicting reports Monday about possible surveillance footage of his slaying. Words on a portrait and a poster reading 'Fight!' (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A woman places a votive candle as she lines up with others to pay their last respects at the coffin of Boris Nemtsov during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakharov center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside a Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, who was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Relatives and friends pay their last respects at the coffin of Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakharov's center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside the Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. Western officials have called for Russia to conduct a prompt, thorough, transparent and credible investigation into the slaying. Putin has ordered law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Relatives and friends pay their last respects while passing the coffin of Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakhavov's center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside the Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. Western officials have called for Russia to conduct a prompt, thorough, transparent and credible investigation into the slaying. Putin has ordered law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Dina Eidman, mother of Boris Nemtsov, left, and other relatives pay their last respects near the coffin of Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakharov's center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside the Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. Western officials have called for Russia to conduct a prompt, thorough, transparent and credible investigation into the slaying. Putin has ordered law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Relatives and friends pay their last respects while passing the coffin of Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakhavov's center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside the Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. Western officials have called for Russia to conduct a prompt, thorough, transparent and credible investigation into the slaying. Putin has ordered law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
People applaud as workers carry the coffin of Boris Nemtsov during a farewell ceremony at the Sakharov center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside a Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, who was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A woman holds a votive candle lining up to pay the last respects at the coffin of Boris Nemtsov during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakharov center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside a Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, who was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin.(AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
A police stands by as people line up to pay their last respects at the coffin of Boris Nemtsov during a farewell ceremony inside the Sakharov center in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Mourners are lining up outside a Moscow human rights center for the funeral of murdered Nemtsov. a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, who was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A woman holds a Nemtsov-authored book 'Confessions of the Rebel' as she lines up to attend a farewell ceremony to the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on March 3, 2015. Russia vowed on March 2 to find the killers of outspoken opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as fresh details emerged about the most shocking political assassination during Vladimir Putin's rule. Nemtsov's body will lie in state on March 3 at the Andrei Sakharov rights centre in Moscow, followed by his burial at the city's Troekurovskoye cemetery. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 03: Mourners pay their last respects at the coffin of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov during a farewell ceremony on March 03, 2015 in Moscow, Russia. Nemtsov was murdered on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge near St. Basil cathedral just few steps from the Kremlin on February 27. Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead ahead of a major opposition rally this weekend. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
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BRUSSELS (AP) - EU-Russian relations took a further dip on Tuesday when the European Union strongly condemned Moscow for banning Polish and Latvian officials from entering the country to attend the funeral of slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz called the bans a "high affront" and said he will intervene with Russian authorities "in the strongest terms and demand an official explanation."

Latvia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, joined the criticism, arguing in a statement that the move to deny MEP Sandra Kalniete entry "flies in the face of basic principles of humanity."

The EU foreign policy service was especially irked since the "justification in this particular case implies that she would represent a threat to the security of the state or public order," said spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic. "This does not appear as a credible explanation."

The Baltic News Service quoted the Russian embassy in Latvia as saying that "Kalniete's attempt to enter Russia is nothing more than a provocative public relations campaign."

Poland joined the chorus of criticism after its senate speaker Bogdan Borusewicz was kept out of the country for the funeral.

Borusewicz said Russia is now "an undoubtedly authoritarian system that is moving in the direction of dictatorship."

Under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin relations with the 28-nation EU have steadily deteriorated over the past half decade and have turned into confrontation over the war in Ukraine, deliveries of gas and human rights.

In the wake of the fighting in eastern Ukraine and Moscow's annexation last year of the Crimean Peninsula, the EU has imposed visa bans on 151 individuals, including several Russians. It also has imposed economic sanctions, to which Moscow has retaliated.

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Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed to this article.

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Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert

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