PODGORICA, Montenegro – Montenegro's prime minister on Wednesday called Russia's expulsion of a Montenegrin official "destructive and primitive" and stressed it won't change the tiny Balkan nation's pro-Western course.
Dusko Markovic was reacting in parliament to the ban of a senior Montenegrin ruling party official, Miodrag Vukovic, who was prevented from changing planes at a Moscow airport over the weekend.
Russia's foreign ministry has said Vukovic was kept overnight in a transit zone at Domodedovo International Airport on his way to a meeting in Belarus because Montenegro had joined the European Union's sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.
Vukovic returned to Montenegro on Monday.
Markovic said he has heard that Moscow has compiled a "secret" list of Montenegrins who are banned from traveling to Russia. Montenegrin media said it contains some 70 names.
A spokeswoman for the Russian embassy in Montenegro, Yelizaveta Borisova, told the Russian TASS news agency that any attempts by Montenegrin media to draw a list of "undesirable" Montenegrin citizens "holds no ground."
Montenegro was a close ally of Russia but is set to become NATO's 29th member in June. Russia has threatened economic and political retaliation.
"Such attitude against a country which wants to self-determine its future is disappointing," Markovic said. "I have never registered such a level of destruction, primitivism. It reflects the character of that (Russian) regime."
"We will certainly not falter on our (pro-Western) commitment," he added.
Montenegro has said Russia was behind a foiled coup attempt in October to prevent it from joining NATO, which Moscow denies.