Russia’s Lower House to consider US citizens’ blacklist

Russia’s Lower House to consider US citizens’ blacklist
Russian State Duma is due to approve the draft law targeting US citizens involved in Human Rights violations, which is seen as a response to the so called ‘Magnitsky Bill’ approved by the Senate last week.

The document was developed jointly by all the parliamentary parties and it could be approved at the first reading as early as Tuesday. The current version does not contain a list of particular names, but simply provides for sanctions against US citizens who had violated the rights of Russians, in particular adopted Russian children.

Moreover, the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said the bill will pass the Lower House this week. “We will approve it in three days – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday,” Zhirinovsky told the press.

The Marnitsky Act violates the presumption of innocence and counters the spirit of reset and the idea of cooperation between Russia and the United States, stated the head of the Fair Russia party Sergey Mironov.

The leader of Russian Communists, Gennadiy Zyuganov, called the Magnitsky Act “a humiliation for Russia as a country and for each of its citizens” adding that the Jackson-Vanik amendment that was canceled simultaneously with the adoption of Magnitsky Act was much more harmless than the new bill.

The move came after a number of Russian officials, including senior MPs, promised a harsh response to the controversial US bill. Russians unanimously attacked the document as an attempt to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs and to pressure justice in a sovereign country.

Over the weekend Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called upon the parliamentarians to offer “a collective and multi-party” reaction to the US legislators’ move.

On Monday Lavrov reiterated his stance, saying the approach demonstrated by the US is harmful for international relations as a whole.

The parliament’s role is not in the attempts to lecture others such attempts only bring intolerance and conflicts to international affairs. The US initiators of such ‘exchanges of pleasantness’ must understand that their actions are countering the objectives of deeper cooperation between the United States and Russia, between the two peoples who bear the responsibility for guarantees of international stability,” the Russian minister said. “Russia is shunning the discussion of the problem in the humanitarian and human rights sphere, we have something to tell our partners, but this should be done on the basis of equal rights and mutual respect, under condition of observation of the state sovereignty principle and with regard to every nation’s national, cultural and historical particularities,” Lavrov noted.

In turn, the head of the Lower House’s Foreign Affairs Committee Aleksey Pushkov, noted that the majority of parliamentarians were inclining to a harsher draft of the document.

Last week the US Senate passed the Magnitsky Act – a document targeting a group of Russian officials in response to alleged complicity in the death of Sergey Magnitsky – an employee of a British investment fund who was under investigation over tax fraud. When the bill comes into force, those who are named in it will be denied entry to the United States and their US assets, if there are any, will be frozen.