Magnitsky affair row grows as Russia threatens to reveal banned US officials

Moscow retaliates to new US law with its own blacklist of Americans accused of rights abuses


Russia has threatened to unveil a list of American officials who are banned for alleged human rights abuses in the latest in a tit-for-tat row between the two powers.

Moscow is furious that American legislators approved a new law which forbids any Russian officials known to be involved in corruption or criminality of travelling to the United States or holding assets there.

The law, which was passed on Thursday night, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow based lawyer who was hired by the British investment fund Hermitage Capital to investigate a multimillion-pound scam and died in prison after he was arrested by the same Russian officials he had accused of being behind the scam.

Alexei Pushkov, one of Russia's top foreign policy officials, said yesterday that Russia already had a list of US citizens implicated in human rights abuses of Russian citizens banned from entering Russia. Up to now, this list has been secret rather than official policy, in response to the American informal visa ban for those on the "Magnitsky list". Now that the Magnitsky Act is official policy, however, Russia could well respond in kind.

The passage of an American banned list is a victory for Hermitage's CEO, William Browder, who has lobbied extensively in the United States, Canada and Europe for such legislation.

"In a world where partisan politics can be so divisive, the moral outrage over what happened to Sergei Magnitsky has caused everybody in Washington to lay down their arms and do something truly historic to honour his sacrifice," he told The Independent yesterday. "The obvious next step is to implement the same kind of ban across Europe and the UK."

Russian officials are aware that the US law puts pressure on European countries to follow suit and are keen to ward off further support for similar sanctions.

Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia's Federation Council, said that Russia's list could now be expanded to include US citizens accused of any rights abuses, not just those involving Russians. "The reciprocal list will be fairly significant, if we name those behind Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the CIA secret jails," he said. "The list will include those who have violated human rights [in the Middle East], and that would be according to global opinion, and not just the opinion of this Mr Browder, who some experts feel is simply using the Magnitsky list as a diversion."

While the world is debating who to punish for Mr Magnitsky's death, Russian authorities are getting ready to try the deceased lawyer posthumously for carrying out the fraud that he discovered. The posthumous trial of Mr Magnitsky also has William Browder, the CEO and founder of Hermitage, who has fought for the introduction of the Magnitsky Act, as a defendant. The pair are accused of stealing 522m roubles (about £10m) from the Russian budget by falsifying tax returns. "The materials for this case have been received by the court," said Alexander Berezin of the Tverskoi Court in Moscow yesterday. "Soon they will be passed to the judge, who will set a date for preliminary hearings."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine