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US Senators Call For ‘Magnitsky List’ Expansion

© RIA Novosti . Andrey Stenin / Go to the mediabankFuneral of Russian Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky (Archive)
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A group of senior US senators asked President Barack Obama’s administration Friday to expand a blacklist of alleged Russian rights abusers that has inflamed tensions between Washington and Moscow.

WASHINGTON – A group of senior US senators asked President Barack Obama’s administration Friday to expand a blacklist of alleged Russian rights abusers that has inflamed tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Senators Robert Menendez, Bob Corker, Benjamin Cardin and John McCain said in a statement that they are disappointed that no individuals have been sanctioned since April under the Magnitsky Act, a US law punishing Russians accused of rights violations.

“We look forward to your response to our request and hope you will also clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list,” the senators wrote in their request to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, according to the statement.

The Magnitsky Act, which was signed by Obama in December 2012, introduces visa and financial sanctions on individuals deemed by Washington to be complicit in the 2009 death of whistleblowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow jail, as well as other purported abuses.

In April, Washington released the names of 18 officials targeted by the Magnitsky Act sanctions and said a handful of other Russians had been placed on a classified sanctions list in the interests of US national security.

The law requires the US administration to submit an annual report to Congress explaining whether any names have been added to or removed from the blacklist. The report is also required to include details of the administration’s efforts to encourage other countries to enact similar legislation.

The four senators, all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in their request Friday that they were dissatisfied with the inaugural report submitted by the administration on December 20.

“Disappointingly and contrary to repeated assurances and expectations, this report indicates that no persons have been added to the Magnitsky list since April 2013 and does not provide adequate details on the administration’s efforts to encourage other governments to impose similar targeted sanctions,” they wrote.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday that the administration is examining possible additions to the list.

“We are continuing to look at names that could be added to the list, and we will continue that process in the weeks ahead,” Nuland told the hearing.

The Magnitsky Act has incensed Russia, which responded in part by banning US citizens from adopting Russian children.

Moscow also issued its own blacklist of 18 US officials it linked to the infamous American detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or to alleged rights violations against Russians abroad.

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