Opposition leader accused of treachery for supporting Magnistky bill

Co-chairman of the People's Freedom Party Mikhail Kasyanov speaks at the authorized opposition rally "For Fair Election" on Sakharov Avenue, Moscow. (RIA Novosti/Alexander Vilf)
The ruling United Russia party has accused opposition figure Mikhail Kasyanov of betraying Russia’s interests for his support of the Magnitsky List bill, recently approved by the US Congress.

In doing so, Kasyanov has “openly admitted that timeserving interests of certain American politicians are more important to him than interests of his own people,” stated senior United Russia’s member Sergey Neverov.

Kasyanov, a former prime minister during President Putin’s first term, is currently not a member of parliament.

The reaction of Russian society to this move should be “definitely negative,” as it may “lead to tensions in relations between the two powers," Neverov underlined, as cited by Interfax. That will be bad for everyone, “except, apparently, those who deliberately play into the hands of provocateurs who are trying to dictate how Russia should live.”

Earlier, Kasyanov – a co-chairman of the Republican Party of People’s Freedom, also known as Parnas – welcomed the adoption of the so-called Magnitsky List. The bill imposes visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergey Magnitsky and in other human rights abuses in the country. The 37-year-old died in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in November 2009.

“These are not sanctions against the country and Russian people. These are restrictions for particular persons violating human rights,” Kasyanov stated.

Official Moscow has vowed to “respond adequately” to the Magnitsky List bill, which it sees as an “unfriendly and provocative” step.

United Russia deputies in the State Duma believe that political parties should put their differences aside when it comes to protecting the country’s interests on the international arena. They suggested that all the parliamentary parties should discuss the controversial bill, hold consultations with the Foreign Ministry and then come up with a consolidated statement the matter, Izvestia daily wrote.

Meanwhile, the Liberal-Democratic Party is already working on its own statement.

“There must be a response [to the Magnitsky bill], as any action should have a counteraction,” insists MP Vladimir Ovsyannikov.

The leader of the Communist party, KPRF, Gennady Zyuganov called the legislation “humiliating.” However, the party is planning to file a request to the Russian Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General’s Office and demand an additional examination of facts mentioned in the American bill.

There are “many questions” to Russia’s penal system, noted KPRF deputy Vadim Solovyov. Even if a person is in jail, one is still a citizen whose rights should be provided by both the law and the penal institutions.