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Foreign Ministry: Russia to reply symmetrically to Magnitsky list enlargement

January 19, 2014, 0:11 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

Dolgov described possible new such steps on the part of the American authorities as unlawful

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WASHINGTON, January 18, 23:24 /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow will reply symmetrically to a possible enlargement of the list of Russian government officials to be subjected to U.S. sanctions under the Magnitsky legislation, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov said on Saturday, January 18.

He said Russia’s attitude towards this legislation was well known and “has not changed.”

From Russia’s point of view, this act is “politicised from start to finish,” the diplomat added.

He recalled that the unilateral punitive measures used by the United States against some Russian officials last year “were met with an appropriate, calm and symmetrical reaction from Russia.”

“And that’s how it will continue to be if the American side takes additional steps,” he warned.

Dolgov described possible new such steps on the part of the American authorities as unlawful.

On Friday, January 17, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that a group of influential lawmakers had called for enlarging the Magnitsky list.

On April 12, 2013, U.S. Department of State officials said that the Magnitsky list had a classified section but did not say how many persons were on the list or who they were.

They only said that this section was shorter than the public one. Since American legislation does not allow anyone’s assets to be frozen secretly, the persons in the second part of the list can only be subjected to visa restrictions.

The U.S. administration said both parts of the list had been made known to Congress, both in writing and orally.

The “list of persons who have been determined, based on credible information, to meet the criteria described in that [Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability] Act. Such criteria include responsibility for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or involvement in certain other gross human rights violations in Russia, as defined by the law,” the Department of State said.

“Persons on this list are banned from receiving or holding visas to enter the United States. Their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and transactions in such property or interests in property are prohibited,” it said.

Russia responded to the Magnitsky Act by adopting the so-called Dima Yakovlev Law that defines sanctions against U.S. citizens involved in violations of the human rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. It creates a list of citizens who are banned from entering Russia, and also allows the government to freeze their assets and investments. The law suspends the activity of politically active non-profit organisations which receive money from American citizens or organisations. It also bans citizens of the United States from adopting children from Russia. The law was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 28, 2012 and took effect on January 1, 2013. The law is informally named after a Russian orphan adopted by a family from Purcellville, Virginia, who died of heat stroke after being left in a parked car for nine hours.

The Magnitsky list is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Hermitage Capital lawyer who was reportedly investigating corruption among some high-ranking Russian officials.

Magnitsky, a 37-year-old attorney of the British investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, was charged with assisting in tax evasion. He died at the intensive care unit of the Matrosskaya Tishina prison infirmary on November 16, 2009, eleven months after he was taken into custody and seven days after he was indicted.

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