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13 Apr, 2013 08:02

Russia strikes back with Magnitsky list response

Russia has released the list naming 18 Americans banned from entering the Russian Federation over their alleged human rights violations, as a direct response to the so-called Magnitsky list revealed by the US on Friday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich stressed that the publication of Magnitsky List is a “heavy blow to bilateral relations and mutual trust.” 

“We’d like to particularly note that unlike the American [Magnitsky list], our list includes in the first place those involved in legalizing torture and indefinite confinement of the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay detention facility, arrests and abductions of Russian citizens to third-party countries, and infringement on their life and health,” Lukashevich explained.

Lukashevich added that the 'war of lists' was not Russia's choice, but now the government must respond to open blackmail. The time has come for politicians in Washington to finally realize that building up relationship with a country like Russia in the spirit of mentoring and outright dictatorship is hopeless, he believes.

"It's a direct interference in Russia's domestic issues," Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. "The Magnitsky case should not be discussed outside Russia, it's unacceptable."

"While a whole number of international and regional conflicts suggest Russia and the US should work closer, this case not just casts shadow over these ties, but actually damages them," he added.

Before the Magnitsky list was released, Russia warned that the reaction would be in accordance with the “rules of parity.”

“We will not publish anything substantially different in terms of the numbers [of names] published by the American side,” explained Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In response to Russia's list the US State Department released a statement, criticizing the reciprocal decision. 

"As we've said many times before, the right response by Russia to the international outcry over Sergey Magnitsky's death would be to conduct a proper investigation and hold those responsible for his death accountable, rather than engage in tit-for-tat retaliation,'' the statement said.

The final version of the list of Russian officials and businessmen who will be banned from entering the United States while their stateside assets will be frozen includes 18 people. Sixteen of them are said to be “directly responsible ” for Magnitsky’s death in prison, according to Washington's version of events.

There are no top Russian officials on the list at the moment, however, according to a senior US State Department official there is a separate, classified version of the list. Those included on the secret list will be banned from entering the US, but won’t be stripped of their assets, because “you can’t do an asset ban in secret,” the official said.

Although the published list is considerably shorter than the 60 officials that Magnitsky Act author Benjamin Cardin accuses of involvement in the tax lawyer’s death, the Act suggests that the US government would annually add new Russians it views as ‘human rights violators’ to the list. 

Sergey Magnitsky was a lawyer working at the British investment fund Hermitage Capital, which was involved in a large-scale tax evasion scandal in 2007. Magnitsky, insisting a group of Russian officials were behind the embezzlement, was arrested on suspicion of assisting with tax evasion. Almost a year later, Magnitsky died of a heart attack awaiting trial in a Moscow detention center. His supporters claim he was tortured to extract a confession and to withdraw his accusations. In March 2013, the criminal case into his death was closed due the absence of a crime.

But despite disagreement over the list, the US will continue to work with Russia on issues of mutual interest, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. 

“We have our differences with Russia,” said Carney. “We make them clear. Human rights is an issue that we have disagreements with them on at times and, you know, we are very frank and candid about that. And we will engage with the Russians on those issues as well as the others that we have.”

Russia’s list of unwanted Americans is sanctioned under the so-called Dima Yakovlev law that came into force in January. A complete ban on adoptions of Russian children by US parents or by proxy of US organizations was included in the extensive regulation on "measures against persons involved in abuse of fundamental human rights and freedoms including those of Russian citizens.”

US officials involved in legalizing torture and indefinite detention of prisoners (The Guantanamo List)

1) David Spears Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (2005-2009)
2) John Choon Yoo, Assistant US Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (2001-2003)
3)  Geoffrey D. Miller, retired US Army Major General, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2002-2003)
4) Jeffrey Harbeson, US Navy officer, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2010-2012)

US officials involved in violations of the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens abroad

5) Jed Saul Rakoff, Senior US District Judge for the Southern District of New York
6) Preetinder S. Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
7) Michael J. Garcia, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
8) Brendan R. McGuire, Assistant US Attorney
9) Anjan S. Sahni, Assistant US Attorney
10) Christian R. Everdell, Assistant US Attorney
11) Jenna Minicucci Dabbs, Assistant US Attorney
12) Christopher L. Lavigne, Assistant US Attorney
13) Michael Max Rosensaft, Assistant US Attorney
14) Louis J. Milione, Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration
15) Sam Gaye, Senior Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration
16) Robert F. Zachariasiewicz, Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration
17) Derek S. Odney, Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration
18) Gregory A. Coleman, Special Agent, US Federal Bureau of Investigation