Russia to Retaliate If Magnitsky Act Goes Ahead – Putin Aide

MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) – A senior Russian official said Monday that Moscow will unveil its own list of alleged US rights violators should Washington proceed with moves to penalize a range of Russian officials.

Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said imminent publication of the so-called “Magnistky List,” which envisions visa bans and the freezing of bank accounts of Russian officials suspected of rights abuses, will damage bilateral relations.

“We are not pushing this issue, and we are only reacting to it. This is not our choice,” said Ushakov, an aide to President Vladimir Putin.

The anti-US “Dima Yakovlev List” has received resounding support from the ruling United Russia party. The list is named after a Russian-born toddler who died in 2008 after being strapped into an overheated car for hours by his adopted father.

The proposed Russian blacklist – also known as the “Guantanamo List” – was drawn up last fall in response to the Magnitsky Act and initially listed 11 US officials allegedly implicated in human rights violations and torture at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba and in secret CIA prisons across Europe.

Sixty more people linked with criminal prosecutions against Russian nationals Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko and violations against adopted children, as well as backers of the Magnitsky Act, have been added to the list, State Duma international affairs committee head Alexei Pushkov said in January.

The Magnitsky Act, which was approved by the White House in December, was initially aimed at officials allegedly linked to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a pre-trial detention facility in 2009.

The scope of the legislation, which envisions sanctions for officials expected to be named in April, has been broadened since its inception to cover a whole range of suspected rights abusers.

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