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Federation Council approves Russia's response to Magnitsky Act

December 26, 2012, 14:53 UTC+3

The bill will be submitted to the Russian president for signing

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MOSCOW, December 26 (Itar-Tass) — The Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the new legislation retaliating for the U.S. "Magnitsky Act." The house voted unanimously for the document which envisions, among other measures, a ban on the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. The bill will be submitted to the Russian president for signing.

Summing up the results of the voting, FC speaker Valentina Matviyenko said 143 FC members had taken part in the vote /in all, the FC has 162 members/. "Some of our colleagues are ill," Matviyenko sad. She read the statements by five FC members who were absent at the Wednesday session: Boris Shpigel, Alexander Petrov, Alexander Sinyagin, Albert Kazharov and Viktor Kosaurov, who had supported the legislation.

Prior to the voting, head of the house committee for constitutional legislation and legal issues Andrei Klishas explained that the measure did not contract any of Russia's international committeeman’s, including those within the framework of the World Trade Organization. The law conforms to the Russian Constitution, Klishas said.

The parliamentarian explained the conditions for annulling the Russia-U.S. child adoption treaty. "Our position is that it /the operation of agreement/ stops from January 1, 2013," he stressed. "The text of the agreement does not commit Russia to making decisions on handing over children; it only describes child adoption procedures.

"If we stop handing over children for adoption / to U.S. citizens/ from January 1, the agreement will effectively stop operating," he noted.

In his opinion, "there is no need to pass additional acts to annul the treaty; the Russian Foreign Ministry will simply forward a note /about it/ to the United States."

Matviyenko told reporters the law would not prevent trips to the USA of the children where adoption decisions have been made or will have been made by yearend.

For his part, chairman of the FC committee for international affairs Mikhail Margelov said the Magnitsky list approved by Washington was "a challenge thrown /by the Americans/ in confidence that "the USA is a reference standard state where human rights are absolutely protected." The USA actually assumed the role and function of international court. "These circumstances directly violate Russia's sovereignty and require adequate answer," Margelov said.

At the same time, the FC does not intend to give up interaction with U.S. partners because of the Magnitsky Act. "We believe that stopping the parliamentary dialogue with the U.S. Congress would be strategically incorrect. The Federation Council committee for international affairs intends to explain our position, using for the purpose the format of the working group U.S. Senate - Federation Council and working contacts with the U.S. Senate committee on foreign relations," Margelov said.

The Russian president is to consider the new legislation within two weeks, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

Officially, the Russian response is called on measures of influence on the persons involved in violations of the basic human rights and freedoms, the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens, although the mass media tend to call it Dima Yakovlev's law, in memory of a two-year old Russian boy who died in the United States after his adoptive American father had locked him in a car in the full blaze of the sun.

The unofficial name refers to the resounding provision of the law which bans the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and repudiates the Russian-U.S. child adoption agreement signed in Washington in 2011, which came into force in November 2012.

The bill provides for such measures as denying entry visas to persons who committed crimes against Russian citizens abroad or who had some relation to such crime, who have public powers and whose actions, or lack thereof, helped relieve the persons who committed crimes against Russian citizens from liability, who are involved in the abduction or unlawful deprivation of freedom of Russian citizens, who handed down unjustified and unfounded verdicts to Russian citizens, and who carry out legal prosecution of Russian citizens without valid reason.

Other measures include temporary suspension of the activity of non profit-making organizations that engage in politics and are funded with U.S. grants. However, these organizations have a chance to resume their operation if they give up on U.S. funding.

Apart from that, the bill allows to freeze financial assets in Russia and ban any transactions with real estate for the U.S. citizens who have been denied entry to Russia.

The United States citizens put on the Russian list of persona non-grata will also be forbidden to dispose of their property in Russia. The bill also suspends the operations of legal entities under their control and the powers of the boards of directors and other governing bodies registered in Russia.

The list of U.S. citizens who have been denied entry to Russia will be maintained and updated by the relevant federal executive body. Its head will report to both houses of the parliament at least once a year.

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