WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator John Kerry, the influential head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he supports a measure to sanction Russian officials for human rights violations as a complement to granting Russia normalized trade status.
According to "Foreign Policy" magazine, which quotes the transcript of a March 27 business meeting of the committee, Kerry (D-Massachusetts) said that pursuing the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act in conjunction with repealing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment is "the way to move forward."
The Magnitsky bill would financially sanction and deny U.S. visas to Russian officials connected to the 2009 prison death of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
While the Obama administration has concern that passing the bill would harm relations with Moscow, many senators favor it as a trade-off for repealing the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik Amendment, a move the administration advocates.
Jackson-Vanik, which imposes trade restrictions on Russia, is seen as a symbol of Washington's opposition to Moscow's rights violations.
Kerry said, "We will move as rapidly as we can."