The State and Treasury departments today published the Magnitsky list of sanctioned Russia officials connected with the death of whistleblower attorney Sergei Magnitsky while in prison.
This, naturally, sparked the ire of the Kremlin, who has warned the “reset” administration before about enacting the lists. But Congress forced President Obama’s hand with the broadly supported Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 that passed in December.
“The appearance of any lists will doubtless have a very negative effect on bilateral Russian-American relations,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Putin has signed a retaliatory bill to bar a list of Americans from Russia in response.
“Today the State Department, in concert with the Treasury Department, submitted to Congress, as required by the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, a list of persons who have been determined, based on credible information, to meet the criteria described in that Act. Such criteria include responsibility for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or involvement in certain other gross human rights violations in Russia, as defined by the law,” said Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesman at the State Department.
“Persons on this list are banned from receiving or holding visas to enter the United States. Their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and transactions in such property or interests in property are prohibited.”
Eighteen names were added to the list today.
“This first batch of names released by the administration pursuant to the Magnitsky Act is a serious and historic first step. With this concrete action we send more than just a symbolic message that gross violators of human rights in Russia, and around the world, cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), author of the original bill. “I look forward to continuing the collaboration between Congress and the Obama Administration in implementing the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act to ensure that those who should be on this list are in fact on this list. I am pleased that the initial list includes officials who were involved at every stage of the death of Sergei Magnitsky, as well as other crimes. I am fully confident that this list, and future names that will be added, can stand up to international scrutiny.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called publication of the list “a welcome step in our efforts to support democracy and human rights in Russia.”
“Although last year’s Magnitsky Act, which I strongly supported, highlighted the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer killed after exposing high-level corruption, its larger purpose was to identify individuals involved in human rights abuses throughout the country. I am pleased to see that this process has now begun and urge the Secretary to ensure that the names of all those involved in such crimes are made public,” Royce said. “We must continue to aid oppressed peoples around the world who are struggling for freedom.”
“Sergei Magnitsky was just a lawyer doing his job,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “His efforts to unmask massive corruption led to his death. The eighteen names on the Magnitsky list are the start of a process to hold violators accountable for human rights abuses and to use our foreign policy to shed light on abuse wherever it occurs.”