Thursday, June 7, 2012

House panel approves Magnitsky sanctions on Russia

Source: Press TV (US Desk)

A congressional committee unanimously approved on Thursday a measure to penalize Russian officials for human rights abuses, adding to tensions with Moscow and complicating White House efforts to pass Russian trade legislation in the coming months.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved on a voice vote the "Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act," named for a 37-year-old anti-corruption lawyer who worked for the equity fund Hermitage Capital. His 2009 death after a year in Russian jails spooked investors and blackened Russia's image abroad.

The measure has bipartisan support among lawmakers but its prospects for passage in Congress remain uncertain.

The measure would require the United States to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians linked to Magnitsky's death. The Obama administration already has imposed visa restrictions on some Russians believed to have been involved in Magnitsky's death, but kept their names quiet.

The bill would make public the list of alleged offenders, broaden it to include other abusers of human rights in Russia and prohibit them from doing their banking in U.S. institutions.

Russian officials have warned that the bill would harm American-Russian relations, and U.S. business groups say it could hurt their interests in Russia. Chicago Tribune


A bill to punish Russian officials for alleged human rights abuses would badly damage U.S.-Russian ties and hurt U.S. exports, American business groups have said. Washington Post

Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, whose members include major U.S. exporters such as Boeing, Microsoft and Caterpillar, told reporters Tuesday that the Magnitsky legislation was “seriously flawed.” Foreign Policy

If Congress does not remove Russia from Jackson-Vanik, Moscow could under WTO rules potentially deny U.S. exporters some of the market-opening concessions it made to join the WTO. Reuters

U.S. companies also fear that they will lose sales because Moscow will retaliate by turning to other suppliers. Reuters

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