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Mark’s blacklisting a ‘badge of honour’

Carterton Mayor Ron Mark is among 31 New Zealanders to be blacklisted by Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry published a list of names yesterday that included the Prime Minister’s partner Clark Gayford and prominent media figures in its latest round of sanctions.

Translations of the Russian statement said the list was in response to sanctions against Russian individuals and legal bodies by the New Zealand Government, introduced as part of the “Russophobic campaign” of the “collective West”.

“Entry into our country on an indefinite basis is closed for an additional 31 New Zealanders [including] government officials, journalists, and public figures involved in promoting the anti-Russian agenda and support the regime in Kyiv.”

However, it is clear Carterton’s mayor could not care less.

“There goes my holiday. I’m so distraught,” Mark said.

“Quite the contrary. I’m proud of it. I’ll wear it as a badge of honour.

“Being banned by a leader that indiscriminately murders people in their sleep does not faze me.”

Mark said Russia believes the list to have an outsized impact but instead “it’s about as effective as Putin’s military has been to date”.

The former Defence Minister has been outspoken in his support for Ukraine, as well as his disappointment in the New Zealand Government’s response.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago, he has participated in humanitarian aid missions in the war-weary nation.

“What’s happening there is appalling. It’s contrary to all we believe in and the values that we espouse and ask of others. To sit here and do nothing is not an option.”

Mark said he fully intends to provide further humanitarian aid “to those who need it most” but would not disclose when that will be.

“You’ll only know when I’ve been to Ukraine, after I’ve come back.”

He took the opportunity yesterday to reiterate calls to expel the Russian Ambassador to New Zealand, Georgii Viktorovich Zuev.

In September last year, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said expelling the ambassador was “an active consideration”.

Mahuta confirmed at the time that the Government’s inertia on the issue was because the New Zealand Ambassador to Russia was still in Russia, and the hope was to “keep diplomatic channels open”.

Mark, however, said Zuev had “no purpose in being here”.

In addition to multiple journalists being sanctioned, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s list also featured RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson, and NZME chief Michael Boggs, and Stuff owner Sinead Boucher.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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