MOSCOW, January 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia confirmed on Friday the existence of its "Guantanamo List," which it said was a retaliatory measure for the US Congress' passage of the Magnitsky Act.
"In our relations with the United States, we have so-called ‘blacklists.’ The makeup of these lists, as well as the criteria on which they are based, is not a matter of general discussion," the Foreign Ministry's Deputy Head Sergei Ryabkov said. "As for the 'Guantanamo List,' some information that is now publicly available is not far from the truth. The contents of these lists may change with time," he added.
Russia had previously blacklisted only 11 Americans. Visa restrictions had been put in place on those Americans who had violated the human rights of Russian citizens in the United States and in zones under American jurisdiction (such as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). Duma Foreign Affairs Committee representative Alexei Pushkov told Russian media on Friday that the list had been extended to include 60 people.
Ryabkov said Russia had determined several occasions on which "the US government and legal establishments had raced to unjustifiable conclusions, extending US jurisdiction to the territory of third states," and also violated human rights, including those of Russian citizens in the United States.
"This cannot be left without a response. One of the forms of this response is the restriction of entry to Russia for those people who participate in these violations," he said.
Russia had been forced to retaliate with symmetrical measures, Ryabkov said. "An answer with symmetrical measures is not our choice," he said. "We simply have to act in such a way. But responsibility for this lies with the United States," he added.
The US government passed the Magnitsky Act in December of last year, introducing a blacklist of Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky at a Russian prison in 2009. Russia immediately promised to retaliate for the measure.