WASHINGTON, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - The US Department of State on Friday praised the adoption of a bill normalizing trade relations with Russia as a “historic” event.
“This was part of a historic bill that normalizes trade relations between the U.S. and Russia. It's a great benefit to both us and to the Russians,” State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said.
On Friday US President Barack Obama signed into law the Magnitsky Act, a bill punishing Russian officials for alleged human rights violations that US lawmakers attached to a landmark trade bill normalizing trade relations with Moscow and repealing the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik law.
The aspects of the Magnitsky Act have angered the Kremlin. Moscow has promised to impose analogous restrictions against US officials in response to the law.
“This sort of Russian attempt at reciprocity - you know, sadly instead of taking action to bring justice for Mr. Magnitsky, this is their attempt,” Ventrell said. “We continue to call on Russia to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for the crimes committed against Mr. Magnitsky.”
In response to the Magnitsky Act, the Russian parliament approved in the first reading on Friday a draft bill targeting Americans alleged to have violated Russians’ human rights. The Russian bill would see alleged US rights abusers banned from entering Russia, their assets in Russia seized and the operations of their companies in Russia suspended.
The bill was named after Dima Yakovlev, a Russian orphan who died of heatstroke in July 2008 after being negligently locked in a car in Virginia by his foster father.
The Department of State said it rejected any attempt by Russian authorities to equalize Magnitsky’s death to crimes committed against adopted children from Russia.
“I think it stretches the imagination to see an equal and reciprocal situation here. The issue of adoption is one that we've worked very hard with the Russians - something that we've looked at carefully, but we just reject any attempt at this sort of - trying to make a reciprocal comparison,” the spokesman said. “We just reject that.”