39% of Russians Approve of Magnitsky Act – Poll

MOSCOW, December 8 (RIA Novosti) – More than twice the number of Russians approve of recent US legislation imposing sanctions on Russian officials deemed to have violated human rights than disapprove, according to a nationwide poll released this week by the respected Levada Center.

The center found that 39 percent of Russians fully or mostly agree with the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act – also known as the “Magnitsky Act” – which passed the US Senate on Thursday and introduces asset freezes and travel sanctions for Russian officials believed to be involved in the 2009 death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Only 3 percent of respondents called their feelings about the legislation highly negative, while 11 percent more felt mostly negative.

The poll, released Friday, also found that 48 percent of Russians remain undecided on the new rules, which have grown in recent years to become one of the most prominent thorns in the US-Russian relationship.

Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who was investigating accusations of foul play by Russian authorities in their case against the Hermitage Capital investment firm, allegedly uncovered evidence of a $230 million fraud scheme by Russian tax inspectors.

He died in November 2009 under mysterious circumstances after spending nearly a year in a Moscow prison. Critics have blasted the lack of prosecution connected to his death, despite evidence suggesting Magnitsky was physically abused while imprisoned.

The Magnitsky Act has drawn fierce criticism from Russian officials, who promised on Friday to respond harshly.

Twelve percent of respondents placed the blame for Magnitsky’s death on investigators, another 12 percent on government officials who felt threatened by his accusations, 10 percent on negligent doctors and 9 percent on “inhuman conditions” in the country’s prisons.

The poll included 1,596 respondents and was carried out between November 23 and 26 in 45 Russian regions. The margin of error is 3.4 percent.


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