Duma chairman slams passage of Magnitsky Act by U.S. House

Russian State Duma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin sees the passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act as politicking exploiting a tragic death.

"This decision does not meet the current level of relations between Russia and the U.S. I see this as an attempt to interfere in our country's internal affairs and politicking aimed at exploiting a tragic death," Naryshkin told journalists on Friday evening.

"This nearsighted step by the U.S. lawmakers goes against our common achievements of the past years" and "undermines trust between our countries," he said.

"Certainly, the passage of this legislation will not remain without Russia's answer," and "its practical implementation will prompt our response measures," he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation titled preliminarily as Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 earlier on Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned in commenting on the passage of the legislation by the U.S. House that it is useless to speak with Russia in the language of sanctions and ultimatums and that Russia would respond to that move without doubt.

"There must be no illusions: we will respond, no doubt, and the U.S. will be fully responsible for that," the ministry said in a commentary on Friday.

"The decision made by the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress to approve the anti-Russian legislation imposing visa and financial sanctions on citizens of our country is a flagrantly unfriendly and provocative step," the ministry said.

"The congressmen have ignored our repeated warnings that this step will have a negative effect on the general atmosphere of Russian-U.S. relations and there will be a firm reaction on our part," the ministry said.

"If anyone in the Congress thinks that Russia may be spoken with in a language of sanctions and ultimatums and that the outdated anti-Soviet Jackson-Vanik Amendment may be supplanted with its new edition under the guise of 'care' for human rights, these expectations have no prospects," the commentary said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that Russia had already considered various responses in case the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act. "We certainly know it. We talked about this at all stages of the debate on the so-called Magnitsky legislation. I can confirm that our response will be tough, but not necessarily symmetrical," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax earlier.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Russia's response to the passage of the Magnitsky Act in the U.S. would be tough and would depend on "the final form of this unfriendly and provocative step."

The list of Russian officials who could fall under U.S. visa sanctions in line with the Magnitsky Act had earlier been compiled by U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin. The U.S. Department of State earlier put a number of Russian officials the U.S. believes were involved in the criminal prosecution of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on the visa blacklist. It includes, in particular, a number of special services officials, policemen, prison wardens and doctors, prosecutors, tax auditors, and tax inspectors.

Russia was outraged by this list, saying that this in fact meant pressure on the Russian judicial system. It compiled its own visa blacklist of 11 U.S. officials not eligible for Russian visas.

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