MOSCOW, June 6. /TASS/. Moscow won’t leave unanswered Estonia’s decision to adopt the so-called Magnitsky Act aimed at punishing alleged Russian human rights violators, Deputy Head of the Information and Press Department of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Artyom Kozhin said on Wednesday.
"Certainly, we won’t leave such unfriendly steps without a due response," the diplomat said. "The latest particular example is Estonia’s entry ban for 49 Russian citizens from the so-called Magnitsky List on March 29, 2018."
Estonia’s ambassador was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry and was informed that "the most Russophobic political and public figures" of the Baltic state were barred from entering Russia.
"It was stressed that the above mentioned Tallinn’s decision signals that it continues its blatant anti-Russian policy, which directly harms bilateral relations," Kozhin said.
Russia earlier retaliated against "a similar step of Lithuania’s authorities." "Respective measures will be made against Latvia, which also joined this provocative anti-Russian line," he stressed.
On March 29, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s government approved at a session a proposal of Foreign Minister Sven Mikser to ban entry to Estonia for 49 foreigners on the so-called Magnitsky List.
Similar laws were enacted in Latvia in February 2018 and in Lithuania in November 2017.
On April 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that in retaliation against the adoption by Vilnius of this law Moscow was forced to "impose a ban on trips to Russia for the most hostile-minded Lithuanian citizens, including local politicians, legislators and political scientists."
The Magnitsky Act was signed into law in November 2012. The law was named after Sergey Magnitsky, an auditor working for Hermitage Capital Management, a British investment fund, who was arrested on charge of creating illegal tax evasion schemes for the fund. While under investigation, Magnitsky accused a number of Russian officials of corruption. In November 2009, he died in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow, as stated by representatives of Hermitage Capital, after being denied essential medical care.
The law envisages sanctions against a number of Russian officials, including employees of law enforcement agencies, whom Washington holds responsible for the death of Magnitsky. Besides, it imposes unilateral US sanctions on Russian officials, who, according to the US authorities, are responsible for human rights abuse in their home country. The sanctions range from refusal to issue US entry visas to the freeze on financial assets within the US jurisdiction.