Washington believes Moscow’s sanctions against U.S. officials are meant as a punishment for the U.S. travel ban on Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a top U.S. State Department official said.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told the Russian business daily Kommersant that the United States does not consider Russia’s sanctions were connected with human rights violations but believes they were introduced in retaliation for the U.S. measure.
Magnitsky was arrested and jailed without trial in November 2008, and died in police custody a year later after being denied medical care. The 37-year-old lawyer was working for Hermitage Capital Management, a British-based investment fund, when he accused Russian tax and police officials of carrying out a $230-million tax scam.
In July 2011, the U.S. State Department banned visas for about 60 Russian officials over their involvement in the detention and death of Magnitsky, the so-called “Magnitsky list.”
Moscow responded in kind, compiling its own list of 11 “undesirable” U.S. officials barred from entry to Russia. The officials are reportedly linked to the notorious Guantanamo prison.
Sherman said her country regrets Russia’s response.