Russia has completed an initial "undesirables list" of individuals who will be refused entry into the country in response to the United States' so-called Magnitsky List, which blacklists Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky earlier in the year to entering the United States, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Saturday.
"We, of course, have not left the political provocation against our country unanswered. On the principle of reciprocity, we have confirmed a list of U.S. citizens whose entry into the Russian Federation is undesireable," Lukashevich said.
Magnitsky was arrested and jailed without trial in November 2008, and died in police custody a year later after being denied medical care. The 37-year-old lawyer was working for Hermitage Capital Management, a British-based investment fund, when he accused tax and police officials of carrying out a $230-million tax scam.
In July 2011, the U.S. State Department banned visas for about 60 Russian officials over their involvement in the detention and death of Magnitsky.
Lukashevich said in a statement the list contains "highly-appointed Washington officials tied to crimes in the the humanitarian sphere."
"The names of those who are responsible for wrongful actions against Russian citizens in the United States, who sanctioned [those actions] and were personally involved in their kidnapping and mockery are known," the statement reads. "Those names have also of course been added to the list [of barred entry] into Russia."
"If the American side follows a path of visa confrontation, we will have to expand that list," Lukashevich said.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was providing all necessary assistance to Viktor Bout, a Russian citizen facing illegal arms dealing charges in the United States.
Bout was arrested in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the U.S. in November 2010 after a furious legal battle in Thai courts.
Lavrov said Moscow would also provide assistance to another Russian, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced by a U.S. court in September to 20 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took custody of Yaroshenko after he was detained on May 28 last year by Liberian authorities and whisked him to New York without notifying Russia.
“In both cases the laws of Thailand and Liberia were blatantly violated, and in both cases elementary norms of decent behavior in terms of notifying Russia were also violated,” Lavrov said.