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Magnitsky Act Sparks Russian Fury

Published: December 7, 2012 (Issue # 1738)



  • The U.S. Capitol, where the Magnitsky Act cleared the Senate by 92 to 4 votes on Thursday.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MOSCOW Russia will impose avisa ban onU.S. citizens accused ofhuman rights abuses inresponse tothe "absurd" trade andhuman rights bill passed bythe U.S. Senate onThursday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We will also close entry toAmericans who are guilty ofhuman rights violations," Lavrov told reporters after ameeting with Secretary ofState Hillary Clinton inDublin late Thursday.

TheMagnitsky Act, which lifts Cold War-era trade restrictions but also imposes sanctions onsuspected human rights offenders, cleared theSenate by92 to4 votes onThursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed themove andis expected tosign thebill intolaw before theend ofthe year.

Thelaw repeals theCold War-era Jackson-Vanik amendment, which barred theUnited States fromestablishing normal trade relations with Russia because ofrestrictions theSoviet Union imposed onthe emigration ofJews andother minorities.

TheUnited States was obliged tolift Jackson-Vanik after Russia joined theWorld Trade Organization earlier this year.

But another section ofthe bill bans Russian citizens believed tohave been involved inthe arrest, prosecution anddeath incustody oflawyer Sergei Magnitsky andother human rights violations fromentering theUnited States.

TheForeign Ministry has called thehuman rights component ofthe bill "an exercise inthe theater ofthe absurd" andwarned immediately that thebill would have a"negative impact onbilateral relations," theresponsibility forwhich "lies entirely with theUnited States."

No names have yet been mentioned as candidates forRussia's retaliatory list ofU.S. human rights offenders, but Alexei Pushkov, thechairman ofthe State Duma International Affairs Committee, has suggested that it could blacklist U.S. officials accused ofhuman rights violations inAfghanistan andIraq.

Earlier it had been suggested that theRussian list would target U.S. officials involved inthe arrest andprosecution ofarms dealer Viktor Bout, who was extradited fromThailand tothe United States over Russian objections in2010.

Ananonymous government source told Kommersant that theresponse would be "entirely symmetrical." "We will have as many people onour list as they have ontheirs. If they add some people later so will we," thesource said.

President Obama immediately welcomed thenormalization oftrade relations, but made no direct reference tothe human rights component ofthe bill.

"I commend theHouse andSenate forworking ona bipartisan basis topass legislation toend theapplication ofthe Jackson-Vanik amendment toRussia andMoldova, allowing me toextend Permanent Normal Trade Relations toboth countries. I look forward toreceiving andsigning this legislation," he said ina statement posted onthe White House website late Thursday.

"My administration will continue towork with Congress andour partners tosupport those seeking afree anddemocratic future forRussia andpromote therule oflaw andrespect forhuman rights around theworld."





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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