Duma's opinion prevailed in anti-Magnitsky Act bill - Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has refrained from commenting on a bill the State Duma passed in retaliation for the U.S.' Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act before it has become a law.

"If you think that the State Duma is not independent in its actions, you are wrong. They really have an opinion, which has prevailed now. Don't ask why," Lavrov told journalists on board a plane while returning to Moscow from an EU-Russia summit in Brussels.

He pointed out that the president and the government, including himself, have expressed their positions on this bill.

It is obvious to Russia that the story of Sergei Magnitsky, a Hermitage Capital lawyer who died at a Moscow prison in 2009, is being used "for disgraceful purposes."

Concerns about human rights abuses should not be turned into a political instrument, Lavrov said. "Such things should not be politicized," he said.

Any tragedy should serve as a lesson, which should help make the law enforcement system more humane, he said.

"Yes, people do die in prisons, and not only in Russia but also in Europe and the U.S. By the way, people die at the much extolled International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as well. Including [former Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic. After all, nobody proposes adopting a Milosevic act. Because this is cynical and blasphemous," he said.

The State Duma passed the anti-Magnitsky Act bill at the third and final reading on Friday.

The bill originally envisioned measures against people involved in violating the rights of Russian citizens. A number of amendments were proposed to the bill before the second reading, including those banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and outlawing bodies and organizations brokering intercountry adoptions between the U.S. and Russia.

This decision drew criticism from a number of non-governmental organizations and political figures, among them Lavrov, Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov, Minister for Open Government Affairs Mikhail Abyzov, Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin and others.

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in commenting on this that, by passing this bill, State Duma deputies responded primarily to the U.S. authorities' inaction toward crimes against children adopted from Russia. Putin said he would define his position on the bill after thoroughly studying it.

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