06:36 GMT +3 hours29 November 2014
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Obama to Sign Magnitsky Act on Friday - White House

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US President Barack Obama will sign into law on Friday a bill that joins together two pieces of legislation on Russia, dealing with trade and human rights issues, the White House said.

WASHINGTON, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama will sign into law on Friday a bill that joins together two pieces of legislation on Russia, dealing with trade and human rights issues, the White House said.

The legislation will simultaneously repeal the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik restrictions on trade with Russia, establishing normalized bilateral trade relations with Moscow, and introduce visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials considered by the White House to be guilty of human rights violations.

The bill specifically targets Russian officials considered by the White House to be involved in the death of Russian whistleblower lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, but it extends to other purported violators of human rights in Russia as well.

The passing of the bill by overwhelming majority in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate has infuriated Russia.

In a rare display of unity, all four political factions in the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, have drafted a bill that would punish Americans for alleged human rights violations in response to the Magnitsky Act.

The State Duma will review the bill in the first reading on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday criticized the Magnitsky Act as a “purely political, unfriendly act,” but said Russia's response should be “adequate and not excessive."