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Magnitsky Act adoption may harm trade relations with RF-view

June 06, 2012, 14:36 UTC+3
The Obama administration until recently has opposed such a linkage
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WASHINGTON, June 6 (Itar-Tass) — US business representatives have warned of the danger of the adoption of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which, in their opinion, could seriously damage trade relations with Russia. President of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Bill Reinsch told journalists on Tuesday that US companies are concerned that Moscow will take retaliatory measures, and after its accession to the WTO will switch to other trading partners.

He also expressed the opinion that the adoption of the bill will have a negative impact on the overall bilateral relations and will complicate cooperation with Russia on such issues as Iran and Syria.

NFTC members are such major companies as Boeing, Microsoft and Caterpillar. Reinsch believes that it is yet not too late to modify the Magnitsky Act, which has “serious flaws,” in order to somehow soften Moscow’s reaction. History shows that once such things are put to the vote, they are adopted by a majority vote, he added.

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act provides that is currently considered by the US Congress, provides for sanctions against officers of Russian law enforcement agencies and judges implicated in the death of the lawyer of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund in a Moscow detention centre in November 2009. According to the document, they and their relatives will be denied entry to the United States and their accounts in US banks will be frozen. The initiator of the bill is Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin. Many members of the US Congress, including Senators Kerry and Cardin, consider the adoption of the Magnitsky Act as a prerequisite for the repeal of the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment for Russia.

The Obama administration until recently has opposed such a linkage.

Spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council Caitlin Hayden said that the US administration would prefer the Congress to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment exclusively within the framework of trade legislation, but it understands the aim of Cardin’s bill and shares all the goals it pursues: to promote human rights observance in Russia and specifically bring those responsible for Magnitsky death to justice. She said the Obama administration continues consultations with Senator Cardin and other Congress members on how to best solve this problem. She recalled that the US government has already introduced visa sanctions against persons who, in the view of Washington, were involved in the death of Magnitsky.

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