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article imageOp-Ed: In response to US Magnitsky list Russia bans 18 Americans

By Ken Hanly     Apr 14, 2013 in Politics
Moscow - The main intention of the Magnitsky act was to punish Russian officials thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, by banning them from the United States and use of the US banking system.
The US list contained the names of 18 Russian officials thought to be involved in the death of Magnitsky. Russian Foreign Affairs Minister spokesperson, Aleksandr Lukashevich called the US publication of the Magnitsky List a “heavy blow to bilateral relations and mutual trust.”
Lukasevich noted that the Russian list included persons involved in torture and indefinite confinement of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and others who were involved in the arrest and abduction of Russian citizens to third-party countries. He said that this "war of lists" was not Russia's choice but a response to the US list. He said that Washington should realize that they cannot build a solid relationship with Russia through mentoring and even attempts to dictate actions. Even before the US list was released the US was warned that Russia would reply according to the "rules of parity".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “We will not publish anything substantially different in terms of the numbers [of names] published by the American side.” The response of the US State Department was a continuation of its preaching in a hectoring tone:"As we've said many times before, the right response by Russia to the international outcry over Sergey Magnitsky's death would be to conduct a proper investigation and hold those responsible for his death accountable, rather than engage in tit-for-tat retaliation."
Sixteen of the individuals on the US list are claimed to be directly responsible for Magnitsky's death. Apparently, there is another classified list of officials who will simply be banned from the US but will not be stripped of their US assets as will happen to the 18 named. The Magnitsky Act author Benjamin Cardin lists some 60 Russian officials he believes were involved in Magnitsky's death. The Act also suggests that the government would annually add new Russians it views as "human rights violators" to the list. If other countries followed this type of action then Barack Obama would never be able to travel or have a bank account abroad nor would John Brennan, George Bush, and dozens of other US high officials.
Serge Magnitsky was an attorney working for Hermitage Capital a UK investment fund that was involved in a tax evasion, fraud, scandal in 2007. He insisted a group of Russian officials were behind the scheme. He was arrested on the grounds he may have assisted with tax evasion. Almost a year later he died of a heart attack in a Moscow detention center while awaiting trial. Supporters claim he was tortured and this resulted in a forced confession and he also withdrew his charges. No crime was found by Russian authorities in his death. However, US authorities and supporters believe his death was the result of actions by Russian officials.
The entire Russian list can be found here. The first four are called the Guantanamo List of officials involved in legalizing torture and indefinite detention of prisoners:
"1) David Spears Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (2005-2009)
2) John Choon Yoo, Assistant US Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (2001-2003)
3) Geoffrey D. Miller, retired US Army Major General, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2002-2003)
4) Jeffrey Harbeson, US Navy officer, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2010-2012)"
No doubt countries will always accuse each other of human rights abuses and often with justification but to take action in the manner of the Magnitsky Act does little but to stir up rancor in both countries involved and leads to the type of retaliation that Russia has now employed.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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