Russia Outlaws USA Officials over Human Rights Violations
Russia has banned 18 officials from the George W. Bush administration on Saturday from entering the country, accusing them of committing human rights violations. The move comes as retaliation after the US Treasury Department blacklisted 18 Russians, over a bill which was passed by the U.S. Congress in November–December 2012, called the Magnitsky Act.
The bill, formally known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4405), was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2012, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012.
Sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin, the main intention of the law was to prevent Russian officials, who were thought to be responsible for the death of attorney and whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, from entering the United States and using the banking system.
Since then, the law has become a major source of aggravation between the two countries. Neither of the lists includes the names of top Russian or USA officials.
According to Al Jazeera News report, Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday called the Magnitsky Act an “absurd” law that “intervenes in our domestic affairs” and “delivers a strong blow to bilateral relations”. He added “”Unlike the American list, which is formed arbitrarily, our list primarily includes those who are implicated in legalization of torture and perpetual detentions in Guantanamo prison.”
Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2009 at the age of 37, was pressing for prosecution of corrupt tax officials for organizing a $230 million fraud scheme. He was arrested and charged by the very same officials he had accused of the scam.