Putin slams US Magnitsky law as 'unfriendly'
MOSCOW, December 13 - RAPSI. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the United States adoption of the Magnitsky Act is a consequence of intrigue in domestic politics, saying that the U.S. authorities speak of the reset in Russian-U.S. relations, but in fact only worsen them.
"Honestly, I do not understand. It must be some kind of intrigue in domestic politics. But I dont understand why Russian-U.S. relations should be sacrificed for the sake of getting dividends from domestic politics," Putin said at the Council of Legislators.
The President brought up the comment a Foreign Ministry employee made on the law.
"She said that this is theater of the absurd. That is absolutely true. You couldn't put it better," Putin said.
He confirmed that considers Sergei Magnitksy's death in prison a tragedy and expressed his sympathy.
On December 6, the U.S. Senate approved the Magnitsky Act, stipulating visa sanctions for Russians who are believed by the senate members to have been involved in human rights violations. The law evoked severe criticism from the State Duma.
The bill was introduced by a group of U.S. senators last spring. The suggestion was that there should be a blacklist of Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in November 2009, in exchange for the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
Magnitsky was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, just days after accusing police investigators in a $230 million tax refund fraud, and died after almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia will respond to the Magnitsky Act by banning entry to Americans believed to have violated human rights.