Russian senators call Magnitsky Act unfriendly

The passage of the Magnitsky Act by the U.S. Senate came as no surprise, Alexander Torshin, first deputy speaker of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia's parliament, told Interfax.

"The passage of this act by the Senate was to be expected. Moreover, it is beyond any doubt that this bill will be signed by President Barack Obama. Nevertheless, we in the Federation Council view it as an extremely unfriendly step, which will not contribute to progress in bilateral relations," he said.

Torshin, however, said that he was unruffled by this situation and advised against dramatizing it.

"Many countries pass different bills in relation to other countries, and we need to wait and see how this law will be applied in practice. I am certain that this list will be unlikely to have any serious impact on strategic cooperation between Moscow and Washington in the future," the Russian senator said.

Valery Shnyakin, deputy chairman of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee, told Interfax that the Magnitsky Act is "cynical and hostile" toward Russia.

"We should not hesitate to give an adequate, asymmetrical response to it. There are plenty of options for this response, which would become tangible for the American side," Shnyakin said.

The adoption of this act could harm the interests of U.S. business and U.S. citizens in Russia, he said.

"I need to say that the West was wrong to herald Sergei Magnitsky as a campaigner against corruption and human rights activist. In reality, he was a financier and an auditor, who devised sophisticated schemes to take money out of Russia. That is what it is an act of utmost cynicism to tie Magnitsky's death to the passage of the bill named after him," he said.

The State Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, is debating a bill that denies Russian entry visas to foreigners guilty of violating the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens abroad, Shnyakin said.

"For example, the Foreign Ministry of our country has confirmed a list of U.S. citizens who could be denied Russian visas. This list includes a large number of high-ranking American officials. In my opinion, our Russian list could be enlarged seriously following such a step," he said.

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