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Russia is seeking for a response to the US approval of the Magnitsky Act

June 28, 2012, 12:41 UTC+3
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The US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously recommended approve the Magnitsky Act on Tuesday. If the bill is enacted (only Obama’s veto can hamper this step), Washington will bring in effect the black list of Russian officials, who will be banned to arrive in the United States and their US bank accounts if there are such will be frozen. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated about the intentions to take asymmetrical measures. In retaliation Russian deputies suggest make up “Bout’s list” or halt cooperation with NATO in Afghanistan.

The Magnitsky bill was moved by Democrat senator Benjamin Cardin in May 2010 and envisages the ban for entry and financial transactions in the US for Russian citizens, who are involved in the death of lawyer of the Hermitage Capital Foundation Sergei Magnitsky and other violators of human rights in Russia, as well as the publication of the list of these officials, the Vedomosti daily recalled. In early June the bill with the same name was approved by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the lower house of the US Congress.

Russia’s response will be tough, not compulsorily symmetrical, but will not bring additional disagreements in Russian-US relations, the newspaper cited Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying. Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov suggested get back to the bill on protection of Russians from abuses of foreign officials that was submitted a year ago. United Russia deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov offered to make up “Bout’s list”. Communist deputy Ivan Melnikov suggested revise relations with NATO and close the question with a NATO transhipping site in Ulyanovsk.

None of these measures will make the US congressmen give up their plans, and the termination of cooperation on Afghanistan will be detrimental to Russia, on the borders of which the situation is deteriorating, the Vedomosti daily quoted political expert Boris Makarenko as saying.

The RBC daily noted that in the final reading of the document the authors had to come to a compromise. The supplement to the bill with the list of Russian officials, against which the United States will impose sanctions, turned out to be classified, and the legal wording now notes that the provisions of the bill will concern the officials, which violated massively the human rights not only in Russia, but in the whole world.

Now Washington needs badly Russia to deter Iranian nuclear plans, in the Syrian issue and in the transit corridor to support its troops in Afghanistan, The New York Times explained the US step making the Magnitsky Act more lenient.

Meanwhile, the approval of the Magnitsky Act is closely linked with a possible abolishment of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which had restricted for 40 years the trade relations with Russia. Some representatives of the US elite believe that just to cancel this amendment is a too big present for Russia, where corruption and the authoritarian rule reign, the newspaper cited chief editor of the Russia in Global Politics magazine Fyodor Lukyanov as saying. The Magnitsky Act brings the cancellation of the amendment in balance, he said.

Most specialists do not doubt that the US president will sign the bill. The reading of the bill became compromising, but kept its pathos, therefore Obama, who is often criticized of spinelessness, will hardly take a liberty not to sign it in the year of the presidential elections, Lukyanov believes.

Moscow gave a very negative response to the approval of the Magnitsky Act by the US Senate, but still refrains from any statements what will be its retaliatory steps. The State Duma does not take any retaliatory measures, only pledging to put up retaliatory measures against the US for discussion.

“For instance, “the list of Milosevic”, who died under arrest, can be made up, or some human rights violations can be found in the US. But I am not convinced that aggressive actions should always entail an aggressive response. The US step was demonstrative, as the country also had an opportunity before to deny a visa without explaining the reasons for this,” member of the State Duma Committee for Security and Counteraction to Corruption Ilya Kostunov said.

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