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Matviyenko points to impermissibility of one-sided interpretation of law re Magnitsky Act

June 29, 2012, 22:26 UTC+3
She said she had also expressed her bewilderment at the remaining validity of the rudimentary Jackson-Vanik Amendment
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ST. PETERSBURG, June 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko has told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the impermissibility of ‘one-sided interpretation of legal norms’ in connection with the Magnitsky Act on the agenda of the U.S. Congress.

She raised the question at the bilateral meeting held in St. Petersburg on Friday on the sidelines of the Women and Economy Forum, which was dedicated to the Russian presidency in the APEC.

“We could not have overlooked the so-called Magnitsky Act, which is being discussed on the Capitol Hill. I expressed my opinion that the one-sided interpretation of norms of the national law and international legal norms given while investigative procedures are not over are regarded by the judiciary as pressure,” Matviyenko told reporters after the meeting.

“That is impermissible for any country. Each state makes lists of unwelcome visitors. The United States has such a list, as well, but whenever this list becomes a law, it causes questions and looks political and anti-Russian, which incites the American forces disinterested in the deepening of Russian-American cooperation. There are such forces: that is for certain,” she said.

“If it had been a universal bill barring from visits to the United States the officials, civil servants who breach human rights or have discredited themselves in a certain way, we would have understood that. Obviously, the democracy and human rights situation in Russia is far from being the worst,” Matviyenko said.

She said she had also expressed her bewilderment at the remaining validity of the rudimentary Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

“Mrs. Clinton said they were doing their best to cancel the amendment, because it was harmful not only for Russia but also for the American business,” she said. “The invalidation of this amendment will assist U.S. businessmen to work on the Russian market more actively,” Matviyenko said.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the Sergei Magnitsky Act.

The bill 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.

The vote on the Magnitsky Act was due originally in April, but active lobbying of the U.S. President Barack Obama Administration delayed the voting. 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.

“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.

U.S. lawmakers should meet not only with the opposition in Russia in order to avoid stereotypes, Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

She made the statement at the bilateral meeting held in St. Petersburg on Friday on the sidelines of the Women and Economy Forum, which was dedicated to the Russian presidency in the APEC.

Matviyenko proposed to enhance inter-parliamentary contacts between Russia and the United States.

“I said that U.S. Senators must know different points of view, which exist in Russia. They should meet not only with members of opposition parties but also with deputies and other politicians in order to crush the stereotypes, which, unfortunately, are still alive in the U.S., the phobias about Russia,” Matviyenko said.

An active political reform is underway in Russia, Matviyenko said. “We would like the reforms to be quicker, but it is equally dangerous to lag behind and to hurry. This is a huge multinational country, and haste is very dangerous for unity and stability,” she remarked.

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