MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti) – The expected publication this week by the United States of a list of Russian officials subject to sanctions over suspected human rights abuses will damage US-Russia relations, the Kremlin said on Friday.
“The appearance of any list will undoubtedly have a negative effect on Russian and US relations,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman told journalists.
Russian officials named in the so-called Magnitsky List could be denied US visas and have their US assets frozen.
The list is expected to be made public by Washington later on Friday. The list, and the law on which it is based, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in disputed circumstances in a Moscow detention facility in 2009 after alleging massive fraud by Russian Interior and Tax Ministry officials. His supporters claim he was tortured to death, while Russian officials maintain he died of heart problems.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed however that bilateral ties would survive the row over the list, and prospects for “further development and growth” in relations would continue to exist.
Moscow is expected to release in response a counter list of US officials it accuses of violating the rights of Russians abroad.
The Magnitsky Act was backed by members of Russia’s opposition movement, notably Boris Nemtsov, a deputy prime minister in the 1990s, who visited Washington last year to push for the law.
Russia responded to the law this year by banning American families from adopting Russian children.
Magnitsky is currently being posthumously tried in Russia on tax evasion charges. The trial is believed to be the first posthumous prosecution in either Soviet or Russian history.