Russia to respond to Magnitsky Act

If the US Congress approves the so-called Magnitsky Act, Russia will respond accordingly, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexey Pushkov has declared. Yesterday, the document was approved by one of the committees at the US House of Representatives. The Act stipulates visa-issuing and financial sanctions against Russian officials who, in the authors’ opinion, were privy to the death of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky. Experts interviewed by The Voice of Russia believe that both chambers of the US Congress will approve the Act.

On the 7th of June, the so-called Magnitsky Act was approved by the majority of Congressmen in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The initiator of this document is Senator Benjamin Cardin. he has made a list of people who are, in his opinion, both involved in the death of the lawyer of the Hermitage Capital fund and responsible for violations associated with his arrest. Recall that Sergey Magnitsky died in a Moscow isolation ward in 2009 while under investigation on tax machination charges. The Magnitsky Act was compiled on the basis of the list of the officials’ names. The Act envisages freezing these people’s assets in US banks and visa-issuing sanctions against them.

According to the official procedure,  after passing the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Act is to be approved by two other committees. Then it is to be submitted for voting at the House of Representatives as a whole. Then a similar procedure will take place at the Senate. considering that mid-term elections to the US Congress are to be held in November, it is obvious that both parties will be using the document for scoring political points, political scientist Yuri Korguniuk says.

“I can’t see any obstacles to the Congress accepting this Act. in connection with the elections, the Democrats will want to demonstrate that they do not encourage Russia to violate human rights. Some lobbyists could be against the Act stressing that it would be better not to aggravate relations with Russia. anyway, I don’t think anyone will listen to them in the heat of the election campaign.”

In March this year, several US Senators with Republican John McCain at the head spoke in favour of cancelling the Jackson-Vanik Amendment in exchange for the approval of the Magnitsky Act by the Congress. Recall that the amendment adopted in the US in the 1970s introduced restrictions on trade with the USSR and later with Russia. Barack Obama’s Administration has already declared that this is not a solution to the problem and is now negotiating with Cardin and other Senators. Many US businessmen are against the notorious document, among them president of the influential National Foreign Trade Council bill Reinsh. However, when one man’s tragedy is used for political purposes it is unlikely that the Congress will listen to reason, expert in American studies Valery Garbuzov says.

“Obama intends to promote the resetting but the Congress has a strong influence on the US internal and foreign policy. there are dozens of people in it who have anti-Russia views and will not change them in the near future.  This should be taken into consideration as existing reality. This response from the US could actually have been predicted.”

Yesterday the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the approval of the Magnitsky Act  by US Congress could be qualified as interference in Russia’s internal affairs. The head of the Russian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexey Pushkov says that Russia could take adequate steps, for example, make lists of Americans who violated the rights of Russian citizens and refuse to give them Russian visas.

At the same time, experts point out that it is too early to forecast the aggravation of Russian-American relations if the Magnitsky Act is approved. Political scientists say that Russia and the US are linked with a whole range of issues, such as the preservation of the strategic armaments balance, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and providing security in several regions of the world.

Russia to respond to Magnitsky Act

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