Senators seek to bar two Russian generals from U.S.

Two U.S. lawmakers have demanded that the White House block a visit to the United States by two Russian generals they claim were involved in lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow jail two years ago.

Senators Roger Wicker and Benjamin Cardin urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter earlier this week to deny visas to two Russian Interior Ministry generals who are due to travel to the U.S. next week, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

Magnitsky’s death has weighed heavily on Russia-U.S. ties. This summer, Washington imposed a visa ban on Russians officials linked to Magnitsky’s jailing and death.

Russia responded in kind. However, neither country has actually implemented the ban so far.

The two Russian officials, Gen. Maj. Tatiana Gerasimova and Gen. Maj. Nikolai Shelepanov, are travelling for a conference on intellectual property rights, and are also going to attend a round-table at the U.S.-Russia Business Council in Washington, the journal said.

The Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights, which organizers of the conference, said it “had no indication that any of these officials were involved in the Magnitsky matter.”

Gerasimova and Shelepanov “are involved in the cynical and sweeping cover-up and the torture and murder,” Senators Wicker and Cardin said.

Magnitsky was jailed in November 2008 after exposing a $230 million tax scam involving Russian tax officials. The Kremlin’s rights body said in a report in July the 37-year-old suffered deliberate neglect and beatings before dying in his cell a year later.

Wicker also condemned Russia’s investigation into the affair.

“When there’s such a blatant disregard for the rule of law, it raises questions as to our ability to count on them when it comes to abiding by trade agreements and obligations under the WTO,” the WSJ quoted Wicker as saying. “If Russia’s going to continue to be scofflaw, to me it raises questions as to whether they belong in the WTO.”

While the State Department declined to comment, its deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, said: “If any individual involved in the wrongful death of Sergei Magnitsky applies for a U.S. visa, the relevant provisions of law will be applied.”


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