MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) – The EU is not planning any sanctions against Russian officials in connection with a new US law that targets Russian officials implicated in the death of whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, the Russian envoy to the EU said on Tuesday.
The US Magnitsky Act, which was bundled together with landmark legislation normalizing trade relations with Moscow, targets Russian officials on the so-called Magnitsky list with visa bans and asset freezes. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on Friday.
“As of right now there is no practical action on the overall EU level similar to what Washington did,” Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov said during a Moscow-Brussels satellite linkup organized by RIA Novosti.
However, Chizhov conceded that there was an appetite for action in individual EU countries.
“Some MEPs believe that Europe should follow the US lead,” he said when asked whether the EU was planning to take any measures against Russia following the approval of the Magnitsky Act in the United States.
The US law was named after whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail three years ago.
Magnitsky was arrested on tax fraud charges after accusing a group of Russian officials of embezzling $230 million of state money. He died after 11 months in pretrial detention. His death was officially blamed on his health problems, but the Kremlin’s own human rights council said in 2011 that he was severely beaten hours before dying, and Magnitsky’s supporters claim the case against him was fabricated in revenge for his exposes.
No officials have been prosecuted so far over Magnitsky’s death. Magnitsky himself faces posthumous prosecution by the Russian authorities on tax fraud allegations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the US law as a “purely political, unfriendly act.”