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Analyst warns expansion of Magnitsky list may pose hindrances to Trump administration

January 10, 18:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On Monday the US government expanded the list of Russian citizens to which sanctions apply under the so-called Magnitsky Act

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©  AP Photo/Evan Vucci

MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. The latest expansion of the "Magnitsky list" may pose hindrances to the United States’ future Donald Trump administration, the director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Valery Garbuzov, has told TASS.

He believes that the outgoing Obama Administration has been taking such steps in attempts to create problems for a future team. "Also, the purpose of such actions is to make preparations for a revanche. The Democrats have been truly hysterical since the moment Trump emerged the winner," he said. "They are still unable to understand how that could happen. They had been certain all along Clinton was slated to win."

On Monday, the US government expanded the list of Russian citizens to which sanctions apply under the so-called Magnitsky Act. The newly-added names to the list are those of Investigative Committee chief Aleksandr Bastrykin, and also businessman Dmitry Kovtun, legislator Andrey Lugovoi, Stanislav Gordiyevsky, and Gennady Plaskin. The British authorities held Kovtun and Lugovoi responsible for killing a former officer of Russia’s federal security service FSB, Aleksandr Litvinenko, in London. According to the Russian media, Plaksin in the past led the Universal Savings Bank, while Gordiyevsky was an employee of the Investigative Committee.

Garbuzov believes that at the level of top tier officials of the Investigative Committee this might interfere with cooperation by Russian and foreign law enforcers somehow.

"In the meantime, the lower - second and third - tiers may remain unaffected," Garbuzov said. "In defiance of sanctions the contacts between the law enforcement agencies at the working level continued all the way. The necessary contacts were never curtailed."

"I believe that both parties will display common sense even in the most dramatic situations," he said. "I do not rule out that after the Trump Administration takes over, some changes may follow in the approach to shaping positions based on pragmatism, practical considerations, sound national interests and mutual respect," Garbuzov said. "So far we’ve seen nothing like that."

No fundamental changes in Russian-US relations due

"The advent of Trump will not herald a new era in Russian-US relations. There will follow a new period of acute internal political struggle in Washington between the Donald Trump Administration and Congress, between the Republicans and the Democrats," he said. "Relations with Russia will be one of the focal points of that struggle. This affair is going to last. We will see it unfold in the near future, and this is precisely why the Democrats have been making such decisions."

"All these actions are an extension of the very same policy that the Obama Administration has conducted all the way towards Russia since the crisis in Ukraine. There is nothing particularly new about that," Garbuzov said. "In other words, it would be na·ve to think that the outgoing Administration will stay idle till January 20. Naturally, it has been using every resource available - both temporal and administrative - to go ahead with this policy."

Garbuzov sees no prerequisites for Donald Trump’s presidency to bring about instant and fundamental changes in Russian-US relations.

"The Administration will change, but the United States and its society have remained the same. That society is more split than ever," he warned.

The split has merely grown deeper and Trump will find it hard to conduct the policy he has promised.

"True, the Republicans in both houses of the US Congress are in the majority, but they tolerate Trump through ‘gritted teeth.’ They are an unreliable support," the analyst said. "As for the Democrats, although they are in the minority, there still are many of them.".

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