Russian Foreign Ministry supports blacklists for “enemies of Russia”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has supported the proposal made by State Duma Deputies to create their own blacklists of western politicians who can be barred from entering Russia. This is in response to attempts within Europe and the US Congress to impose sanctions aimed at Russian officials implicated in the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Minister, Sergei Lavrov said that the “Foreign Ministry regards this move as absolutely fair”.
Several days earlier members of all factions of the State Duma tabled amendments making it possible to take measures of an administrative and economic nature against people implicated in violating the rights of Russian nationals abroad.
According to the draft law a foreign national given powers by his country and causing property losses and moral harm to a Russian national while abroad could be banned entry to Russia.
The draft law also gives the government the right to freeze financial assets in Russia and foreign branches of Russian banks held by people whose presence in Russia has been decided is undesirable. It would also have the right to place an embargo on any deals with property and investments. Such decisions would be final and require immediate enforcement.
Eighteen months after Sergei Magnitsky’s death from torture in custody, the State Duma has not investigated his false arrest, or his torture in pre-trial detention. Russian lawmakers have likewise refused to follow the evidence Magnitsky submitted, which implicates government officials in the theft of $500 million from the Russian treasury. In fact the officials Sergei Magnitsky exposed have been promoted, honored and formally re-certified to remain in their positions of power.
On 16 December 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for visa and economic sanctions on the Russian officials implicated in the Magnitsky case. This spring, two similar pieces of legislation were introduced in both chambers of the United States Congress, titled “The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011” and “The Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act of 2011.” Both acts would impose visa and economic sanctions on Russian officials involved in the crimes against Sergei Magnitsky, and the subsequent cover-up that has shielded Russian officials from prosecution.
In April 2011, Mr. Magnitsky’s former colleague, American attorney Jamison Firestone, filed a 23-page petition addressed to the heads of all four leading factions of the Russian parliament, seeking a parliamentary investigation into the Magnitsky case and the role of General Prosecutor Chaika in its cover-up. He has received no response and no investigation has been launched
On 7 June the Russian Delegation to the Council of Europe staged a protest in advance of a scheduled seminar of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights and Legal Affairs Committee at the Norwegian Parliament, issuing a statement that the delegation planned to boycott the testimony of William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital.
Speaking to the assembly, Mr. Browder stated:
“The Russian lawmakers may have ignored the fact that an innocent lawyer had been tortured and killed in pre-trial detention, or the fact that half a billion dollars had been stolen from the Russian treasury, but as soon as it was understood that government officials might be barred from vacationing at their European villas or accessing their EU bank accounts, Russian lawmakers are holding protests in an attempt to block this legislation.”
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