Ministers Pledge Support for Russians on US Magnitsky List

MOSCOW, April 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s interior and justice ministers have assured their subordinates blacklisted by the United States of the Russian government’s support, saying they will not be affected by the measure.

At a televised joint meeting on Saturday, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the US sanctions will not harm the Russian officials’ career.

“No decisions by other foreign states regarding our nationals should and will have any legal effect for the citizens of this country,” Kolokoltsev said, adding that the officials have no grounds to “worry” about the sanctions if they are “law-abiding” and “have committed no crimes.”

 “Those employees who deserve promotion due to professional skills will be promoted,” the minister said.

The United States published its list of 18 Russian officials facing visa and financial sanctions under the Magnitsky Act on April 12. The act had been signed into law by US President Barack Obama in December 2012 and is ostensibly designed to punish officials Washington believes to be connected to Magnitsky’s death.

A senior investigator for the Interior Ministry, Lt. Col Oleg Silchenko, who was in charge of the investigation into Magnitsky and ordered his detention, and Col. Natalya Vinogradova, who oversaw the Magnitsky case, are among the people included on the list.

In his turn, Konovalov told prison service officials Ivan Prokopenko and Dmitry Komnov, who attended the meeting, that being on the Magnitsky list is “a fact which has no legal effect.” He advised them to continue working saying they will not be affected by the measure.

The Chairman of the Moscow City Court, Galina Agafonova, said on Saturday the US Magnitsky list “has absolutely no relation to justice” and is “politically motivated.”

“As a single community of judges, we support our colleagues and believe they are absolutely right and all of us are right…We have worked and will continue working as required by the law and will administer justice in the name of the Russian Federation,” Agafonova said.

Speaking at a live QA session with the Russian public on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin said the adoption by the United States late last year of the Magnitsky Act, named after a whistleblowing Muscovite lawyer who died in police custody in 2009, was evidence of Washington’s “imperial behavior.” “Why was this done?” Putin said. “To show ‘we are the toughest here.”

Updated with Konovalov’s quote, Agafonova’s quote, changes headline, lead, recasts throughout.

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