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Russian newspapers have commented on the decision by the committee on rules of the U.S. Congress to recommend the House of Representatives to approve the bill which cancels the Jackson-Vanik amendment and introduces visa and financial sanctions against the Russian officials from the "Magnitsky list."
The Kommersant learnt that the White House insists on adopting the Senate's version, which aims to punish not only Russian representatives for violating human rights, but also citizens from other countries. However, the Senate has already made it clear it was ready to support the Congress-proposed version which envisions sanctions only against Russian officials.
Aside from the Magnitsky case, the lawmakers mentioned in the finalized bill a number of other high-profile trials in Russia, such as the Anna Politkovskaya, Paul Klebnikov and Natalia Estemirova cases. They accused the Russian authorities of applying "selective justice" and the unwillingness to carry out complete investigations.
The blacklisted persons are denied entry into the United States; the visas issued to them earlier have been canceled, and their bank accounts and property in America will be frozen. After the bill comes into effect, the USA is expected to ask the European countries to introduce similar measures. However, the White House may withhold the names of the blacklisted persons or lift the entry ban due to considerations of national security or UN request.
The Department of State will have to justify its decision in each separate case. The Department of State and the Treasury Department will have the right to update the list with annual reports about changes to be forwarded to the dedicated Congress committees. The U.S. administration will have the right to take out from the list the names of those who have managed to prove their innocence to the secretary of state.
The Vedomosti underlines that a consolidation of two initiatives is taking place at the U.S. Congress: the annulment of the Jackson-Vanik amendment that restricts trade with Russia and Moldova and the Magnitsky bill which envision a ban on entry into the USA and the freezing of accounts of the Russians involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and violations of rights of other Russian citizens."
"From the Russian point of view, the Senate's vision is preferable, because it is applied not only to Russia, but also to the global practice of violations," leading expert of the Heritage Foundation Ariel Cohen believes.
"There is no big difference for Russia, adopting any edition of the bill is an unprecedented move, which would never have happened in the Soviet times," first deputy chairman of the committee on international affairs under the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament Vyacheslav Nikonov told the newspaper.
"Russia will mirror the U.S. move in any case; and if the USA passes the Senate's version of the bill, Russia will expand the operation of its law not only to the violators of Russian citizens' rights abroad, but also to those who torture Guantanamo prisoners," Nikonov promised.
"Washington does what our country should have done on its own - punishing the persons involved in political murders and reprisals," the Novye Izvestia writes citing human rights activists.
"The Magnitsky bill has substituted lustration in this country, which we should have carried out," lawyer of the For Human Rights movement Vitaly Ikhlov said, "it should have been carried out against the officials who tortured and humiliated people and participated in political murders."
"This list should also include those who banned political parties and organizations, and foiled rallies and marches. But we ourselves should have held those persons responsible. It hurts to see that the Americans have done it for us," he said.