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Lavrov: 'United' Response To Magnitsky Act


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: "An attempt to meddle in our internal affairs"
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: "An attempt to meddle in our internal affairs"
Russia's foreign minister has sharply criticized new U.S. legislation calling for sanctions against Russian officials who violate human rights.

Speaking in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov said the Magnitsky Act was aimed at undermining the "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations.

He called on lawmakers in Russia's State Duma to act as a united front when it mulls response measures this week.

"The Magnitsky bill serves America's national interests. It serves the interests of their internal political struggle, where it is clearly and openly designed to undercut practically the only achievement by [U.S. President Barack] Obama that he was presenting during his election campaign, which is relations with Russia, START, etc.," Lavrov said. "However, since it is an attempt to meddle in our internal affairs, I would very much like to see a united, multiparty response from the State Duma."

The Magnitsky Act was passed by the U.S. Senate on December 6.

The bill is named after Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian whistleblower lawyer who died in jail in Moscow in 2009.

The new legislation places visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials implicated in his death and in other perceived gross rights violations in Russia.

The bill has stirred fierce resentment in Moscow, where officials have vowed reprisals.

Aleksei Pushkov, the head of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, says Russia has already drafted a "blacklist" of U.S. citizens who will be denied entry visas into Russia for their own alleged human rights violations.

The Magnitsky Act threatens to cloud cooperation between the United States and Russia.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who launched a "reset" to improve ties with Moscow nearly four years, is widely expected to sign the bill into law.

The new legislation is part of a broader U.S. bill that lifts Cold War-era trade restrictions.

But Russian officials have focused on the human rights portion of the bill, which they have criticized as "aggressively unfriendly."

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and Reuters
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