WASHINGTON, March 6 (RIA Novosti) – A US lawmaker on Wednesday denied a Russian newspaper report suggesting he supports punishing Russian officials who backed Moscow’s controversial ban on US adoptions under the auspices of the Magnitsky Act.
The report in question, published Wednesday by the Russian business daily Kommersant, is “based on erroneous information,” a spokeswoman for US Sen. Benjamin Cardin told RIA Novosti.
Kommersant cited Cardin, an author of the Magnitsky Act, as saying the US Congress would push for individuals who “denied” Russian children the right to an international adoption to be punished under the Magnitsky law, which sanctions Russian officials accused of human rights violations.
A spokeswoman for Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, said he “made no such comments.”
“The U.S. law is very clear what activities are covered,” she added. “Propagating an embarrassing law that penalizes innocent children is not.”
The law is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing tax attorney who died in a Russian pretrial detention facility in 2009. It allows the United States to deny visas to Russian officials deemed by the White House to be complicit in Magnitsky’s death and “other gross violations of human rights,” as well as freeze their US assets.
Shortly after US President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in December, Russia banned US citizens from adopting Russian children.
Officials in Moscow have said the ban is aimed at protecting Russian children from abusive American adoptive parents, though it is also widely seen as retaliation for the Magnitsky Act legislation, which the Russian government sees as US interference in its internal affairs.
The adoption ban passed by an overwhelming majority in Russia’s two houses of parliament and signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin in late December.
The Kommersant report citing Cardin’s purported support for sanctioning individuals linked to the adoption ban generated a spate of public statements from Russian officials.
Robert Schlegel, a member of the majority United Russia party in the State Duma, told Kommersant that his possible inclusion on the Magnitsky List would not impact his life.
“I don’t have any real estate there,” the newspaper quoted Schlegel as saying. “I’ve visited the United States as a tourist. I don’t think there’s anything else for me to see there. For that reason it doesn’t really upset me.”