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LONDON, October 2 (Itar-Tass) – Britain’s Home Office has imposed a secret ban on the issuance of travel visas to the Russian citizens allegedly linked to the case over death in custody of the Moscow-based lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who worked for the Hermitage Capital Management hedge fund, The Observer weekly said quoting a well-informed MP.
Chris Bryant, a former UK foreign minister, told the newspaper he had received confirmation about the ban from the immigration minister Damian Green.
"From conversations with Damian Green, I took it that these people would not be welcomed,” the Observer quoted the MP. “It seems now as if there is a secret ban on these people."
The article notes the British government’s reluctance "to publicly confront the Kremlin” on the Magnitsky problem, although Prime Minister David Cameron raised the case during his visit to Moscow last month, the article said.
“The move, which has not been publicised for fear of doing damage to Anglo-Russian relations, follows the lead of the US, which introduced visa bans for individuals accused of involvement,” The Observer said.
“Washington's decision last August provoked Russia’s foreign ministry to draw up its own blacklist of banned US government officials,” it indicated.
However, Bryant believes the government should move beyond the constraints of diplomacy and announce the ban.
"America and countries in the EU are moving towards a full open public ban on these people,” he said. “If people are not welcome, they /the British government – Itar-Tass/ should make it clear they are not welcome; not just privately to the individual, but publicly, because it would make it absolutely clear to anybody else that if you are engaged in corruption and criminality in Russia, you are not coming to Britain."
The Observer recalls in this connection the Home Office said it would not comment on individual cases, but added: "We can refuse a visa when an individual's character, conduct or associations make entry to the UK undesirable."