MOSCOW, March 8 (RIA Novosti) – US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul denied on late Thursday that hundreds of Russian legislators may be blacklisted for US entry for supporting a ban on adoptions of Russian children by Americans.
“This is not our policy at the moment,” McFaul said in a Russian-language interview on Ekho Moskvy radio.
A US petition drive proposed in December to add Russian lawmakers who voted for the adoption ban to the so-called “Magnitsky list” of Russian officials banned from the United States over human rights violations. The petition gathered more than 25,000 signatures, which meant the White House was required by law to review it.
“We don’t want that,” McFaul said in the interview about the blanket blacklisting of Russian lawmakers. “On the contrary, we want more contacts between your and our lawmakers.”
“They need to see what America looks like. I’ve read some of the things your lawmakers said about America…that doesn’t reflect reality. So I want them to come [to America] more often, and not just to Washington – visit my California, that’s a different part of America,” McFaul was cited as saying.
The Magnitsky list, named after a Russian lawyer who died in pretrial prison under murky circumstances amid abuse allegations, was passed in early December, though the names of Russian officials on the list are only expected to be made public in April, according to McFaul.
The ban on stateside adoptions, fast-tracked by the Russian parliament before the New Year, lists as its co-authors 397 of 450 members of the lower house, the State Duma, and 144 of 166 senators of the upper house, the Federation Council. Opposition media, including Ekho Moskvy, claimed at the time that at least some lawmakers were pressured into supporting the bill by the Kremlin, though the allegations were never officially confirmed.