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WASHINGTON, April 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia is strongly against U.S. Congress’ attempts to replace the Jackson-Vanik amendment with new “anti-Russian legislation” in the form of the so-called Magnitsky Act that claims to protect human rights and democracy in Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
He warned that the approval by the U.S. Congress of unilateral punitive measures against the persons purportedly responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s death “will cause serious damage to bilateral relations”.
Lavrov stressed that the Russian leadership pays the closest attention to the investigation of Magnitsky’s death.
“This issue must not be politicised,” he added.
An informed source in Congress told Itar-Tass that the congressmen are not very eager to cancel the Jackson-Vanik amendment because of disagreements with Moscow over Syria and other issues, including human rights.
Earlier this week, Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Washington’s position on the matter has not changed.
She said “the investigation into the circumstances of Magnitsky’s death has been inadequate and has failed to produce justice. We continue to call on Russian authorities to conduct a genuine investigation, to prosecute and punish those responsible for Magnitsky’s death. So obviously we’re not moving in that direction.”
Magnitsky, a 37-year-old attorney of the British investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, was charged with assisting in tax evasion. He died at the intensive care unit of the Matrosskaya Tishina prison infirmary on November 16, 2009, eleven months after he was taken into custody and seven days after he was indicted. Detectives said that Magnitsky was not given therapy on time.
The Magnitsky case was dropped on November 30, 2009, due to his death. However it was reopened later by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office following the Constitutional Court’s ruling.