The Greek Foreign Ministry has barred Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, a high-level official of the Russian government, from coming to Greece.
A Turkish newspaper of Thrace that published the incident referred to a “serious diplomatic crisis between Athens and Moscow.”
According to the newspaper, the Greek Foreign Ministry has announced that Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko is a “persona non grata”, a decision taken under the sanctions implemented by the U.S. and the European Union against Russia.
Answering to questions by members of the opposition party SYRIZA, the Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas clearly accepted that “the Greek borders are closed for Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko.”
Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko is the highest-ranking female politician in Russia, the former governor of Saint Petersburg and the current Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.
Born in the Ukrainian SSR, Matviyenko started her political career in the 1980s in Saint Petersburg (then called Leningrad) and was the First Secretary of the Krasnogvardeysky District CPSU of the city from 1984 to 1986. In the 1990s she served as Russian ambassador to Malta (1991–1995) and Greece (1997–1998).
Between 1998–2003 Matviyenko was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia for Welfare, and briefly the Presidential Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District in 2003. By that time she firmly allied herself with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an alliance which secured her a victory in the governor elections in Saint Petersburg, Putin’s native city.
Today, as the current Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, Matviyenko is considered one of the most powerful members of the Russian government and close aide to Vladimir Putin.