MOSCOW, April 12 – RAPSI. The US Treasury Department released the names Friday of 18 Russian officials who will be sanctioned in accordance with the Magnitsky Act, a controversial US law that provoked strong reactions from Russia, including a ban on the adoption of Russian children.
The published list is not comprehensive, however, a senior US State Department official told reporters Friday, albeit declining to mention names and numbers.
The US decision to impose sanctions against certain Russian individuals believed to have violated human rights in the context of the 2009 death of attorney Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pre-trial detention center.
According to its own text, America’s Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (Magnitsky Act) aims: “[t]o impose sanctions on persons responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, for the conspiracy to defraud the Russian Federation of taxes on corporate profits through fraudulent transactions and lawsuits against Hermitage, and for other gross violations of human rights in the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.”
The State Department, in consultation with the Treasury Department and other government agencies, submitted to Congress its first list of officials implicated by the Magnitsky Act.
In accordance with the law, a classified list of names was produced alongside the published list of names, and the names on the classified list will be prevented from attaining US visas.
The published list included officials from the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor General’s office, judges, prison officials, and tax authorities with alleged connections to the investigation, arrest, and detention of Magnitsky.
The officials on the published list will be denied visas to the US and any American assets have been frozen as of Friday.
The officials on the classified list, on the other hand, will only be denied visas, as it would not be feasible to freeze the assets of an individual without informing that individual of his or her inclusion on the classified list.
The list is subject to expansion.
Speaking with RIA Novosti, Vice Speaker of Russia’s State Duma Igor Lebedev voiced his belief that the Magnitsky List’s publication will not affect Russian-US relations. In his view, the inclusion or exclusion of specific names from the list will not hamper relations, but he noted that future conflicts with other countries – such as Iran and North Korea, would cause tensions.
Lebedev wrote the list off as nothing more than a political game: “This is all a political game. They publish the Magnitsky List, we prohibit their adoption of Russian children.” He was speaking in reference to the recent prohibition on the adoption of Russian children by US families via the Dima Yakovlev law, which was fast-tracked in the aftermath of the enactment in the US of the Magnitsky Act.
Head of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Mikhail Margelov asserted that Russia has the tools necessary to respond to the Magnitsky List.
“For us – for a country with self respect – it does not matter how many Russian citizens working for the government are included in the list, or which positions were occupied by these people,” Margelov told RIA Novosti.
He added that no sovereign state could or should tolerate the restriction of the rights of those of its citizens working for the state, noting: “Our executive branch has enough instruments to apply a symmetric or asymmetric response, and the response will follow immediately, I have no doubt.”