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Russia’s Public Chamber supports legislative response to US Magnitsky Act

December 13, 2012, 17:28 UTC+3
The Public Chamber’s opinion providing for a number of technical amendments will soon be submitted to the State Duma
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MOSCOW, December 13 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s Public Chamber on Thursday voiced support to a bill providing for a Russian response to the Magnitsky Act passed by the United States that was submitted to the State Duma lower parliament house.

The Public Chamber scrutinized the bill titled “On Measures to Influence the Persons Involved in the Violation of Russian Citizens’ Rights” that will be considered by the State Duma in the first reading on Friday.

“We have received dozens of expert opinions from regional Public Chambers. They all support the bill. The quick response from chambers testifies to their active involvement – they had only a few days to study the bill,” noted Vladislav Gotlib, a deputy secretary of the Russian Public Chamber.

According to Gotlib, the bill is “a forced response to the Magnitsky Act.” “As a lawyer and a holder of a doctorate degree in law, I don’t understand how such a law might have been passed by the U.S. Senate. This is an extralegal, illegitimate law allowing to make any lists in an extrajudicial manner. It is obvious that it is a political and administrative pressure,” he said.

“As a mother and a woman, I would like to stress that we cannot stand aside when our children are killed and tortured,” said Diana Gurtskaya, a members of the Russian Public Chamber and popular singer. “I was shocked by the story of Dima Yakovlev and stories of other children. The American judicial system was surprisingly indulgent in respect of their foster parents.”

Taking part in the Public Chamber meeting were lawmakers from all the four factions in the State Duma. They noted that all the factions were uncommonly unanimous about this bill. “I can remember only one such case – Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia,” said Vadim Solovyov of the Communist Party.

Another lawmaker, Vyacheslav Nikonov of United Russia pointed to the unprecedented nature of this situation. Such law have never been passed before, “because making any black lists is not a language used by civilized countries,” he said. At the same time he noted that Russia’s response cannot be called properly symmetric. “It is applicable only to cases of violations [by Americans] of the rights of Russian citizens, whereas the American law is applicable to violations by Russian national of the rights of all citizens whatsoever,” he said. “It is just a call to be more prudent and to calm down hot heads in the United States.”

The Public Chamber’s opinion providing for a number of technical amendments will soon be submitted to the State Duma.

The bill was initiated by State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin and the leaders of all the four Duma factions on December 10. It was also proposed to name this document in memory of Dima Yakovlev, 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 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.

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 amended by the relevant federal executive body. Its head will report to both houses of the parliament at least once a year.

The law, if adopted, will come into force from January 1, 2013.

The U.S. Senate adopted on December 6 a bill on normalization of trade relations with Russia, which incorporates the so-called Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act envisioning sanctions against the judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers reportedly involved in the controversial situation around the lawyer of Hermitage Capital Management lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow pretrial investigations center in November 2009.


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