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MOSCOW, September 20 (Itar-Tass) — Well-known Russian human rights champions, politicians and cultural personalities have forwarded a letter to the U.S. Senate, which suggested the use of the sanctions, connected with the “Magnitsky case,” against the officials, engaged in “politically motivated persecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.” The “black list,” drawn up by them, is made up of 305 names, including ex-Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and the present Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika.
In the opinion of human rights champions, “the threat of sanctions was very painful for the Russian officials, who are to blame for the tragedy of Magnitsky. The consistent exercise of international pressure on corrupted officials in the ruling circles of Russia will be of much help to our civil society,” Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. At present the document is being considered by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The draft law provides both for visa restrictions (the officials, who violate human rights, may be denied entry to the U.S. territory), and for financial sanctions.
The letter was signed by Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Solidarity Public Movement, Vladimir Ryzhkov, co-chairman of the Popular Freedom Party, People’s Artists of Russia Liya Akhedzhakova and Natalia Fateyeva, film director Eldar Ryazanov, human rights champions Lyudmila Alekseyeva (head of the Moscow Helsinki Group) and Lev Ponomaryov (head of the all-Russia movement “For Human Rights”). They hope that the draft law will be discussed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations without delay and will be supported by the Senate.
Novye Izvestia points to the fact that the list includes ex-Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and the present Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika, Deputy Prosecutors-General Viktor Grin, Yuri Biryukov and Alexander Zvyagintsev, head of the Investigation Committee of Russia Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Moscow City Court Olga Yegorova, state prosecutors on the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, investigators and judges of the Basmanny, Khamovniki and Meshchansky District Courts, of the Moscow City Court and other courts, where the cases of the YUKOS officials were heard, as well as 13 judges of the Supreme Court of Russia.
Late in July the U.S. Department of State introduced visa sanctions, connected with the Magnitsky case, without waiting for the adoption of the corresponding law by the Congress. Some 60 names were put on the “black list,” including judges, officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Interior Ministry and the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment, investigators, inspectors of the Tax Service, as well as those connected with the Anna Politkovskaya case. The U.S. Department of State explained on July 27 that the decision on the visa sanctions had been made within the framework of the ambitious U.S. programme of visa sanctions, to be imposed on those who violate human rights all over the world.
The Russian Foreign Ministry replied that Russia would not remain indifferent to U.S. visa restrictions, imposed on Russian officials. President Dmitry Medvedev assigned the Foreign Ministry to consider reply measures.
Moskovsky Komsomolets quotes the opinion of experts on the problem. “It will be a rather noisy public campaign, but it will not result in the drafting of some ‘Khodorkovsky list,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russian in Global Politics journal.