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U.S. Bars Russian Officials Linked to 2009 Magnitsky Death - NYTimes

U.S. Bars Russian Officials Linked to 2009 Magnitsky Death - NYTimes

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July 26, 2011

Russians Linked to Jail Death Are Barred From U.S.
By ANDREW E. KRAMER

MOSCOW — The Obama administration has disclosed one of its sharpest policy respo
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This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers here or use the "Reprints" tool that appears next to any article. Visit www.nytreprints.com for samples and additional information. Order a reprint of this article now.

July 26, 2011

Russians Linked to Jail Death Are Barred From U.S.
By ANDREW E. KRAMER

MOSCOW — The Obama administration has disclosed one of its sharpest policy respo

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Published by: iamandrebulatov on Jul 27, 2011
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05/30/2013

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This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customershereor use the "Reprints" tool that appears next to anyarticle. Visitwww.nytreprints.comfor samples and additional information.Order a reprint of this article now. July 26, 2011
Russians Linked to Jail Death AreBarred From U.S.
ByANDREW E. KRAMER
MOSCOW — The Obama administration has disclosed one of its sharpestpolicy responses to Russian human rights abuses, telling American lawmakersthat dozens of Russian officials have been quietly barred from the UnitedStates over their involvement in the detention and death two years ago of aRussian lawyer fighting an enormous fraud and corruption case.The restrictions, put in place without official notification to the Russians,nevertheless represent a significant act of American pressure over the rightsabuses and the impunity in the judicial system inRussia. At the same time, thedisclosure appeared calibrated to protect hard-won improvements in the“reset” of relations between the two countries. A State Department memo laid out the visa ban, which was first reported by The Washington Post. The document was sent last week to senators who have been pushing for far more stringent measures. Their provisions would not only deny American entry to Russian officials linked to the case of the lawyer, SergeiL. Magnitsky, but also freeze their American assets. At least 19 senators aresponsoring the bill, including Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, andJohn McCain, Republican of Arizona.The measure would apply as well to officials implicated in the shooting deathsof Natalia Estemirova, a human rights worker killed in the North Caucasus in2009, and Anna Politkovskaya, a crusading journalist killed at the entry to herMoscow apartment in 2006.
 
The State Department’s memo argued against such sweeping measures, sayingthey might undermine Mr. Obama’s policy of reset with Moscow and that theRussians had threatened retaliation that could harm American interestsaround the world.The Senate measure would “have foreign policy implications that could hurtour international sanctions efforts on countries like Iran, North Korea andLibya, and jeopardize other areas of cooperation including transit to Afghanistan,” the memo said.Russian official reaction was muted on Tuesday.Mikhail Fedotov, the head of President Dmitri A. Medvedev’s human rightscouncil, said the prosecution of Mr. Magnitsky’s killers should be left to theRussian government. “We understand the noble goals,” he said, according toInterfax. “But one also needs to see possible unpleasant consequences.” While accounts of human rights abuses are rife in Russia, Mr. Magnitsky’s casestood out because of the brazenness of the abuse, the scale of the venality and because this victim, unlike most, had powerful friends outside of Russia.European countries have been considering visa bans to officials linked to thecase.Mr. Magnitsky had testified in court that senior police officials had stolendocuments from the hedge fund he worked for, Hermitage Capital, and usedthem in an elaborate fraud to take possession of $230 million in tax refunds.Later, the same police officers he had accused arrested him and ordered himheld in dank cells, where for 11 months he was repeatedly denied medical careas his health faltered.He died in November 2009, at 37. Earlier this month, Russia’s topinvestigative commission said he died of heart disease and hepatitis, and thathe would have survived with medical care. However, a nearly simultaneousRussian presidential advisory report said he may have died because of a
 
 beating.Over time, some prison officials were dismissed and got jobs elsewhere. And while the authorities have also occasionally raised the prospect of a morethorough investigation, they have ignored extensive evidence linking seniorpolice officials to Mr. Magnitsky’s death. Some of those involved even receivedmedals.In its memo the State Department said the visa restrictions cover Russianofficials whose names were provided by Hermitage Capital, which has lobbiedthe United States and European nations for sanctions. An administration official said all the names were vetted, and that Americandiplomats later added more, according to a senior American official. William Browder, the chief executive of Hermitage Capital, said he welcomedthe news of the visa ban but said he would continue advocating for the Senateto pass the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.“Are we really resetting relations with this country if they are threatening tohalt international cooperation in order to allow their torturers and murders totravel to America?” Mr. Browder said in a telephone interview from London. A Senate staff member familiar with the draft legislation said discussions have been under way in Congress about a deal at the nexus of trade, human rightsand diplomacy with the Russians.Under this arrangement, Congress would agree to the administration’s requestto abrogate the Jackson-Vanik admendment, an earlier human rights law intended to address first the Soviet Union and then Russia, in exchange for Mr.Obama’s signature on the Magnitsky act.The Jackson-Vanik amendment imposed trade sanctions on countriesrestricting emigration, and was intended in part to ease the exit of Soviet Jewsto Israel. It remains on the books for Russia though the country abolished exit

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