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Russian media commented on the US intentions to cancel the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment in exchange for the approval of the Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which introduces sanctions against several Russian officials.
The Republican senators are inclined to merge two bills and the US presidential administration supported this initiative for the first time, the Kommersant daily recalled. Although the White House hopes to approve the bill in a more lenient variant, the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment in exchange for the Magnitsky Act is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow. A source of the newspaper in the Kremlin warned that this factor will affect negatively Russian-US relations.
The unanimous attitude of the senators tends to become an unpleasant surprise for the White House, which had warned repeatedly for the last 18 months that the imposing of visa sanctions against Russian officials, who are accused of death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, may deteriorate drastically the relations with Russia. The Kommersant daily learnt that the White House does not give up its attempts to make the bill just a little bit more lenient. For this purpose the text of the bill included the amendments, which complicate the procedure to put on the black list new names and vest the US presidential administration with the right to cancel the effect of the law against some figures on the list.
However, even in a lenient variant the law on visa sanctions is unacceptable for Moscow. “First, the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment is beneficial for the United States that many US businesspeople are speaking about. Secondly, this issue is not linked with arbitrary visa restrictions against our citizens. There should be no bargaining in this issue, but a probable decision of the US Senate will not improve the relations between our countries for sure,” a source in the Kremlin told the newspaper. “If one-sided measures are taken against Russian citizens, we will react adequately,” Russian human rights commissioner at the Foreign Ministry Konstantin Dolgov warned.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the Jackson-Vanik amendment is outdated, and the Magnitsky list is topical. Russia is ready to take retaliatory measures if the US approves a new anti-Russian law, Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov said.
The abolishment of the Jackson-Vanik amendment will not entail tangible changes in economic relations between the two countries, director of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements Boris Kagarlitsky told the Izvestia daily.
The expert noted that Russian authorities would sooner prefer to keep the outdated amendment than the approval of the Magnitsky list. Since the approval of the Magnitsky list means the recognition of the US as an accomplice in the crime of several dozens of Russian statesmen. And this recognition of the US can spoil bilateral relations.
In the previous year the Obama administration gave a negative conclusion to the Magnitsky Act, which senator Benjamin Cardin had drafted, pointing to a probable negative reaction of Russian authorities, the Vedomosti daily recalled. The definite view of the senators and probably the unacceptance of the Russian position on Syria made the Obama administration change its position that the amendment will not be cancelled without the simultaneous approval of the Magnitsky Act, chief expert of the Heritage Foundation Ariel Cohen said.
During the election campaign Obama has to change his position over criticism from the Republican Party, Maria Lipman from the Carnegie Centre noted.
She does not doubt that the approval of the Magnitsky bill in the US Congress will become another negative factor in Russian-US relations.