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US Senate Foreign Relations Committee won’t vote on Magnitsky Act Tuesday

June 19, 2012, 22:14 UTC+3

Moscow has warned Washington about the negative effect of the bill on bilateral relations

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WASHINGTON DC, June 19 (Itar-Tass) — The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not vote on Tuesday on the bill known as the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act, which provides for visa and economic sanctions against a number of Russian citizens suspected by Washington with implication in the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky during his imprisonment.

A committee member asked for delaying the vote, a committee source told Itar-Tass.

The item will be added to the agenda of the next committee meeting. Its date is unknown so far.

The vote was due originally in April, but active lobbying of the U.S. President Barack Obama Administration delayed it. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry explained the delay with the need to overcome disagreements over certain provisions of the bill.

Senator Benjamin Cardin (a Democrat) is the main sponsor of the bill, which will bar the aforesaid Russians and their families from visiting the United States and freeze their accounts in U.S. banks. The Cardin draft compelled the U.S. state secretary and treasury secretary to publish the Magnitsky list within 90 days since the adoption of the bill, together with the list of persons responsible for torture and other serious abuse of human rights.

Many Congress members view the Magnitsky Act as a mandatory condition of the cancellation of the discriminative Jackson-Vanik Amendment and the granting of a normal trade partner status to Russia. The Obama administration had been opposing that link until recently.

Meanwhile, Moscow has warned Washington about the negative effect of the bill on bilateral relations.

Russia will retaliate the possible endorsement of ‘the Sergei Magnitsky bill’ by the U.S. Congress, Presidential Aide for International Affairs Yuri Ushakov said last weekend.

“We insist in all-level contacts with the U.S. administration that it is impermissible to swap the Jackson-Vanik Amendment for the anti-Russian ‘Sergei Magnitsky bill’, which introduces visa restrictions and other sanctions under far-fetched ‘human rights’ pretexts. Washington must realize that we will have to take retaliation measures,” Ushakov said.

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