Russia retaliates US ‘Magnitsky’ legislation
MOSCOW - ReutersRussia’s lower house of parliament gave preliminary approval on Dec. 14 to a law barring entry to Americans who violate human rights, a tit-for-tat response to U.S. legislation against Russian rights violators.
The State Duma overwhelmingly approved the law at the first of three readings, hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was expected to sign the U.S. legislation into law. Only two of the 450 Duma deputies voted against the law.
The U.S. legislation is known as the Magnitsky Act after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Russian jail in 2009. It will require the United States to refuse visas for Russians accused of human rights violations and freeze assets they hold in the United States.
President Vladimir Putin voiced support on Dec. 13 for the Duma to retaliate with legislation that mirrors the U.S. move, denying visas to Americans who infringe the rights of Russians abroad. It would also seize their assets in Russia.
Putin said the U.S. legislation would hurt relations between Russia and the United States, but called for a measured response. The law has to go to the upper chamber and needs Putin’s signature before going into effect, but is expected to pass through the Duma rapidly.