Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman banned from Russia

The former Utah governor was one of 500 Americans the Kremlin imposed sanctions on Friday as the US continues to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.

(Pavel Golovkin | AP Photo) Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman (left) with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the background ahead of their talks Tuesday in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, southern Russia stands , May 14, 2019. Huntsman was one of 500 Americans banned from entering Russia on May 19, 2023.

Former Utah governor and ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. joins the growing list of Americans barred from entering Russia — one of its former diplomatic homelands.

The former US representative in Russia was one of 500 people against whom the country announced sanctions on Friday. Also on the long list were former President Barack Obama, members of Congress from both parties, and John Tefft, another former ambassador to Russia. Late-night talk show hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers were also on the list.

Just hours before Russia’s Foreign Ministry released its latest sanctions, the US imposed tougher penalties on Russian citizens and organizations “supporting their war effort” in Ukraine during the country’s ongoing invasion.

Although Russia’s announcement did not specify why Huntsman was listed, a statement said the action was “in response to the (Joe) Biden administration’s regularly imposed anti-Russian sanctions.”

(Maksim Bogodvid | Sputnik via AP) US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye Huntsman visit the Cathedral of the Annunciation on February 26, 2018 while touring the Kazan Kremlin. The former ambassador was one of 500 Americans banned from entering Russia on Friday.

Then-President Donald Trump appointed Huntsman ambassador to Russia in 2017. He resigned two years later before announcing another candidacy for Utah’s governorship, which he lost to Governor Spencer Cox.

In his letter of resignation to Trump, he wrote: “Going forward, we must continue to hold Russia accountable when its conduct threatens us and our allies.”

Huntsman continued, “Though times are difficult, it’s vital that we increase people-to-people exchanges and maintain channels for dialogue on issues of national interest — combating terrorism, ensuring verifiable arms control, insisting that Russia respecting the sovereignty of its neighbors, and advocating for…”a more responsive system of government that embraces the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

The former governor and a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Huntsman is not the first Utah politician to be sanctioned by the Russian government. All but one member of Utah’s congressional delegation, Senator Mike Lee, were barred from entering the country last May. Lee was later added to the list in November.

Other participants include the late Senator Orrin Hatch, former Utah US Attorney Brett Tolman, and senior US District Judge Dale Kimball, who once convicted a Russian citizen of smuggling technical manuals for F-16 fighter jets to Moscow and ordered the deportation, the Standard Examiner reported.

Editor’s Note • Jon Huntsman Jr. is a brother of Paul Huntsman, the chairman of the board of the nonprofit Salt Lake Tribune.

Justin Scaccy

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