Russia says ‘Magnitsky blacklist’ not to harm cooperation with U.S.

Washington’s decision to impose travel restrictions on Russian officials over the Magnitsky case will not affect cooperation between Russia and the United States, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“We have always committed ourselves to not letting issues in bilateral relations harm the general positive advancement,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, adding that Russia is preparing a “proportionate, mirror response” to the U.S. move.

The United States compiled a blacklist of Russians linked to the controversial death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a pre-trial detention center in November 2009. Russia said the list, imposed in late July without an official notification to Moscow, will “become a strong irritant in Russian-U.S. relations.”

Ryabkov said Russia’s military cooperation with the U.S. on Iran and Afghanistan was “not a favor or a concession.”

“Our cooperation in Iran and Afghanistan is strictly balanced, nothing in this cooperation harms Russia’s interest. On the contrary, it serves our security interests, that’s why we cooperate,” he said.

Russian business daily Kommersant said last week Russia prepared its own blacklist of U.S. officials who will be banned from traveling to Russia in response, including those linked to the trials of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who is being prosecuted in the United States on charges of arms trafficking, and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking in the United States.

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