Saturday Dec 15, 201210:17 PM GMT
Russia calls US lawmakers ‘hypocritical’
Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:16PM
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President Barack Obama on Friday signed the so-called Magnitsky Act.

 

Russia moved closer on Friday to adopting a law barring entry to Americans who violate human rights, the same day U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a rights-linked trade bill Moscow finds objectionable.

 

The tit-for-tat response came in a near-unanimous vote in the State Duma - the first of three votes before the bill goes to the upper house - hours before Obama signed the U.S. legislation into law.

 

The U.S. legislation is known as the Magnitsky Act after Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in a Moscow jail in 2009.

 

It will require the United States to refuse visas for Russians accused of human rights violations and freeze any assets they hold in the United States.

 

Only two deputies in the 450-seat Duma voted against Russia's retaliatory bill, which would deny visas to Americans who violate the rights of Russians abroad, as well as seizing their assets and preventing them from doing business in Russia.

 

All four parties backed the bill - a rare display in a chamber where the Communists and Just Russia frequently vote against Kremlin-controlled United Russia.

 

"We will answer in kind," said Vladimir Vasiliyev, the senior lawmaker for United Russia, which holds a majority in the Duma. "The saddest thing is that ... the hawks (in the United States), Cold War hawks, have again won out."

 

"The Magnitsky Act is just an excuse to meddle in our internal affairs," said Just Russia deputy Alexander Tarnavsky.

 

The spat may make it harder for the two nations to halt a downward drift in relations, which had improved after Obama launched a "reset" of ties in 2009. Reuters

 

FACTS & FIGURES

 

President Barack Obama on Friday signed the so-called Magnitsky Act, which blacklists Russian officials allegedly implicated in the prison death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. AFP

 

Russia has said the bill signed by U.S. President Barack Obama to punish Russian human rights abusers was "shortsighted and dangerous" and called it "overt interference into our internal affairs". Washington Post

 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has harshly criticized the U.S. legislation, saying the U.S. Magnitsky Act would further strain Russia’s relationship with the U.S. already weakened by the conflict in Syria.

 

The Russian bill that would blacklist some Americans with entry bans and asset freezes in retaliation for the Magnitsky bill targets Americans accused of abusing Russian-born adopted children and U.S. judges or authorities deemed to have been too lenient in such cases. The Huffington Post

 

Russia says the United States uses human rights as a pretext for meddling in the affairs of sovereign states around the world. The Huffington Post

 

AHT/ARA

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