ST. PETERSBURG, April 9 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian deputy from the northwestern Leningrad Region’s legislative assembly, who is also the leader of the ruling United Russia party’s regional branch, has asked US President Barack Obama to put him on the so-called Magnitsky List, the party reported Tuesday.
“Dear President Obama,” Vladimir Petrov wrote in a letter to Obama, “in connection with your recent initiative concerning the so-called Magnitsky List, I would appreciate it if you deem it fit… to include my humble person on that list.”
“I do not believe that the [US] president and many State Department officials are concerned about Magnitsky,” Petrov told the Fontanka.ru news portal. “Actually, they are trying to bring the situation to the point of absurdity, and I just want to help them do that.”
The Magnitsky Act introduces visa and financial sanctions on Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. The officials’ names are to be put on the so-called Magnitsky List, which is scheduled to be made public this week.
The act was signed into law by Obama in December, and is ostensibly designed to punish officials believed to be connected to the death in a Moscow jail of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. The scope of the legislation has been broadened since its inception to cover a whole range of suspected rights abusers.
The Investigative Committee has dropped the investigation into Magnitsky’s death, saying it determined no crime had taken place. Many rights groups say the death was the result of physical abuse and failure to provide medical treatment.
Magnitsky, who worked for UK-based equity fund Hermitage Capital, was arrested in 2008 on charges of tax evasion shortly after he accused Russian officials of involvement in a $230 million fraud.
In the wake of the Magnitsky Act, Russia introduced a ban on Americans adopting Russian children – a decision widely seen as retaliation. Moscow said the ban was prompted by a spate of deaths among Russian children adopted by US families.
On March 20, Russia’s top investigator Alexander Bastrykin defiantly announced that he would be honored to be put on the US blacklist of Russian officials suspected of rights abuses. The Investigative Committee chief said he could possibly be targeted in response to his efforts to prosecute US parents suspected of mistreating adopted Russian children.