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 United States Passes Magnitsky Act. Russia is Furious

The upper house of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday adopted the Magnitsky Act along with the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that the adopted version of the bill was approved by the House earlier and it provides for visa and financial sanctions against Russian officials involved, according to Washington, to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other human rights violations. Thus, in case of the bill's approval in the Senate, it will be immediately passed for signing by the U.S. President Barack Obama.

Not later than 120 days after the adoption of the bill, the President of the United States shall provide a list of people who, in his opinion, were involved in the detention, torture and death of Magnitsky, tried to hide the fact, have learned from this financial benefit, or have participated in a criminal conspiracy that Magnitsky uncovered.

According to the bill, the black list will also include the persons who are responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other human rights violations committed against persons seeking to uncover illegal activity on the part of Russian officials to obtain, conduct protect or promote such rights and freedoms as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and the right to a fair trial and democratic elections.

The text of the bill also states that, as new information comes to light, the President can add new names to the list. The persons included in the black list will be subjects to visa sanctions, and all accounts and all transactions of the property and interests in property will be frozen. Individuals can be removed from the list if it is proven that they were not involved in the activity which landed them on the list.

In its turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the decision of the U.S. Senate "performance in the theater of absurdity which, under false pretenses introduces visa and financial sanctions against certain Russian citizens." "Maybe Washington has forgotten what year it is and thinks that the cold war is not over. Or maybe the senators got so carried away with self PR that they ignore the obvious: every country can deny entry into its territory to whomever it sees fit which no special legislation required," said the Ministry in the statement.

The Ministry noted that "it is strange to hear human rights complaints in our regard from politicians whose state has formally legalized torture and kidnapping of people around the world in the 21st century. Tragically, the victims of such wicked acts were Russian citizens," says the statement. It suggests that "over the ridiculously biased approach taken in the U.S. Congress, you can see only a vindictive desire to get even for a principal and consistent behavior of Russia in world affairs in favor of strict adherence to international law. We have to reiterate the hyperactive opponents of Russian-American relations development: their efforts look pathetic. Nevertheless, the Russian has to answer", emphasizes the release.

"We do not want to give up the positive side of our bilateral relationship which has been achieved in recent years. But we should be aware that the law approved by the Senate will have a very negative impact on the prospects of bilateral cooperation. The responsibility for this certainly lies completely and entirely on the United States," says the MFA statement.

 
 
 
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