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Russia Responds To 'Magnitsky List' By Banning Americans


U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who led the prosecution of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, is one of those on the Russian list.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who led the prosecution of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, is one of those on the Russian list.
Russia has published its own blacklist of Americans banned from entering the country in retaliation for Washington's "Magnitsky list."

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a list of 18 current or former U.S. officials on April 13 who it said "are connected to legalizing torture and unlimited detention of prisoners in the special prison at Guantanamo [and] to the arrests and kidnapping of Russian citizens in third countries and infringing on their lives and health."

MOSCOW'S BLACKLIST: U.S. Officials On Russian Entry-Ban List

In a televised statement, spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said, "The war of lists isn't our choice, but we don't have the right to not answer such open blackmail. It's time for Washington politicians to finally understand that there are no prospects in building relations with a country like Russia with the spirit of mentoring and undisguised dictating."

Aleksei Pushkov, the head of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, earlier announced a "visa war" on Twitter. "The reset is dead," he said, referring to the U.S.-Russia policy of resetting relations launched in 2009.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, deputy chairman of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, said both sides showed "restraint." Interfax quoted Nikonov as saying, "In Washington and in Moscow, there were hotheads demanding to inflate the list to an unthinkable size."

The Russian list names four people allegedly implicated in abuses at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They include David Addington, who served as chief of staff under former Vice President Dick Cheney; John Yoo, a former U.S. Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques; and two former commanders at Guantanamo -- retired Major General Geoffrey Miller and Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson.

Addison, who is currently a vice president at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, did not immediately respond to RFE/RL's requests for comment.

Fourteen more people are named as having violated the rights of Russian citizens abroad, including of Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the United States last year, and of Konstantin Yaroshenko, jailed for drug trafficking in 2011.

U.S. district judge Jed Rakoff and several prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York, where Bout was sentenced, are among those included on the Russian list.

A spokesperson from the office declined to comment when asked by RFE/RL.

A number of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers and FBI agent Gregory Coleman are also named.

READ MORE: Russia Reportedly Blacklists U.S. Officials In Tit-For-Tat Over Magnitsky Sanctions

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Itar-Tass news agency that the blacklist also includes a secret section that has more names, similar to the list compiled by Washington.

The Russian list came a day after the United States imposed visa bans and asset freezes on 18 people, most of them Russian officials, who have allegedly committed gross rights abuses.

Sixteen are cited for their roles in the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who implicated Russian officials in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme. He was charged with financial crimes by some of the same officials he exposed before dying under harsh pretrial detention conditions in 2009.

Congressional leaders and U.S. NGOs who advocated for the Magnitsky list have said the international community must take concrete action to hold Russia accountable for its troubling human rights and rule-of-law record.

A State Department spokesman told RFE/RL: "As we've said many times before, the right response by Russia to the international outcry over Sergei 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."

More To Come

The two men on the U.S. list not connected to the Magnitsky case are both from Chechnya and have been linked to high-profile murders.

Stephen Cohen, a former professor of Russian history at New York University, notes that U.S. legislation passed in 2012 requires the White House to continue to add names to the Russian blacklist. He predicts the Russians will respond in kind.

"There's a Russian response and an American response -- everybody's responding to everybody. In that sense, it's a classic Cold War process," Cohen says.

"This won't end here. There are dynamics on both sides, in Moscow and Washington, that will drive this process. It may become permanent, and it can only have bad consequences for the relationship."

David Kramer, the president of U.S. rights watchdog Freedom House, which was one of multiple NGOs that consulted with the U.S. government on the Magnitsky list, called the Russian response "typical."

He said he hoped the Magnitsky list would not be downplayed by Tom Donilon, the Obama administration's national security adviser, who was to be in Moscow for talks on April 15.

Writing and reporting by RFE/RL Washington correspondent Richard Solash; with additional reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP
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