Moscow Will Respond if U.S. Expands Magnitsky List

December 16, 2013
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation| AFP / Alexander Nemenov

Earlier, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said that before the end of the year Washington could expand the “Magnitsky list”, which includes individuals who have been denied entry into the U.S. and whose property and accounts in U.S. banks are to be frozen.

Moscow will respond in kind in case the “Magnitsky list” is expanded by the U.S. authorities, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

Earlier, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, told reporters that by the end of the year Washington could make a decision to expand the “Magnitsky list”.

“As to our reaction to this measure, we already gave our assessment, and it has not changed: there will be adequate retaliatory measures. Of course, such steps will not be left unanswered,” said the diplomat.

According to Dolgov, it directly follows from the U.S. legislation that the U.S. will periodically update the list of Russians who are denied entry into the country, so “there is nothing surprising about McFaul’s statement.”

“It’s not our choice, it is the vicious choice that was made by the American side. If they continue to go down this path, well, that means there will be a response, which certainly will not help in terms of improvement and positive development of our bilateral relations, and our American colleagues are well aware of it,” said Dolgov.

Last April, the U.S. Treasury published the “Magnitsky list” of 18 names. The law provides for visa and economic sanctions against the Russians, who according to U.S. lawmakers, were involved in human rights violations. Moscow has published its own list of 18 U.S. citizens who have been denied entry to Russia. Russia’s list includes the names of people, who according to the authorities, were involved in legalization of torture in the special prison at Guantanamo Bay, as well as implicated in violations of human rights and freedoms of Russian citizens abroad.

The “war of lists” between the U.S. and Russia

The death of Sergei Magnitsky caused a great public outcry, including in the West. In April 2011, the U.S. Congress proposed a bill that provides for visa and economic sanctions against individuals suspected of being implicated in the death of a lawyer. The law provides for legislative approval of the list of Russians who cannot enter the United States. All the bank accounts in American banks and property of the individuals included in the list will be frozen. The U.S. President Barack Obama signed it into law in December 2012.

In response to the actions of the U.S. in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the “Law of Dima Yakovlev,” that banned adoptions by foreigners. The law became effective on January 1, 2013.

In April 2013, the “Magnitsky list” that contains the names of 18 Russian officials, was published on the U.S. Treasury website.

The next day, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued its own list of 18 names, including a judge, federal and state attorneys, the DEA officials, as well as individuals involved in the legalization and use of torture and indefinite detention of prisoners (“the Guantanamo list”).

Who else can end up on the list

The White House website organized a collection of signatures under a petition to include Vitaly Milonov, a member of the Legislation Committee of the St. Petersburg parliament, and Elena Mizulina; the Chair of the Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children; in the “Magnitsky list”.

According to the information on the site, the author of the petition is located in San Francisco. The reason for the initiative was the adoption of the law banning gay propaganda. The authors of the petition believe that Milonov and Mizulina are “personally responsible for the discrimination of sexual minorities in Russia.” If the initiative gets 100,000 signatures, the U.S. administration will have to respond to the request.