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MOSCOW, June 28 (Itar-Tass) —— In reply to Magnitsky legislation, Russia should revise the principles of its interaction with NATO, first deputy head of the Russian Communist Party’s Central Committee, Ivan Melnikov, said.
“We think it is inadmissible to turn the Magnitsky case into an anti-Russian campaign, and this is exactly what the United States is doing now. With all the objective problems in the Russian judicial and legal system and the penitentiary system, Magnitsky is not the be-all and end-all of this world and is used as a pretext,” Melnikov said.
He believes that the idea is to create a tool for extrajudicial prosecution of Russians who are not liked by the U.S. authorities. “On a large number of foreign policy issues Americans pursue a policy of double standards, pinches and bites during formal events. I deal closely with relations between Russia and Cuba and I can see that well with regard to the Island of Freedom when Americans hold five Cubans in prison for political reasons for more than ten years and portray this as a fight against terrorism,” he said.
“I think that if it comes to Russia’s reply, we must think first of all about revising the principles of interaction with NATO and start with closing the question of the so-called transhipment point in Ulyanovsk. All this concerns the U.S. directly,” Melnikov said.
Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow would not rule out an asymmetrical response to the Magnitsky legislation passed by the U.S. Congress.
He warned that if the legislation enters into force, it will have negative consequences for Russia-U.S. relations. “The answer will not at all necessarily be symmetrical, but it’s not our choice,” Ryabkov said. “A symmetrical answer will be made beyond any doubt but it’ll be augmented with a set of some other measures.”
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 earlier.
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.
A group of American senators submitted legislation that gives Russia the status of normal trade partner and cancels the Jackson-Vanik law. However one of its authors, Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he would insist that the document be linked to Magnitsky legislation.
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.”
She stressed, “We are also supportive of the goals of the Magnitsky legislation and we are working with the Congress on an appropriate bill.”.