08:15 GMT +326 March 2017
    US President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016

    Obama Administration Wants to 'Complicate Ties With Russia Even More'

    © AFP 2017/ SAUL LOEB
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    Ten days before the inauguration of new United States President Donald Trump, Washington extended sanctions against Russia. The US added five Russian individuals, including head of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, to its Specially Designated Nationals list for alleged violations of the Magnitsky Act.

    Magnitsky Act

    The US Congress passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which allows Washington to deny visas and free the assets of Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

    Magnitsky was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008. He died in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow in November 2009 after nearly a year-long detention. His death sparked a massive public outcry. Later, US Senator Benjamin Cardin came up with the so-called "Magnitsky list" encompassing Russian officials allegedly involved in the case.

    In addition to Bastrykin, the new sanctions were imposed against Russian lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi, businessman Dmitry Kovtun, investigator Stanisalv Gordievsky and former bank manager Gennady Plaksin.

    The expansion of the Magnitsky Act added to a recent series of unfriendly gestures by Barack Obama’s administration towards Russia.

    On December 29, Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the closing of two Russian diplomatic compounds and new sanctions against six Russian individuals and five entities, including the GRU (the Main Intelligence Directorate) and FSB (the Federal Security Service), over Moscow's alleged interference in the November US presidential election, which the Kremlin has denied.

    "Reserving the right to retaliate, we will not resort to the level of irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy and further steps toward the restoration of Russian-US relations will be built on the basis of the policy carried out by the administration of President Donald Trump," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

    Moreover, a group of US Republican senators would introduce on Tuesday a bill to impose "comprehensive" sanctions against Russia, Reuters reported.

    'Sanctions Mean Weakness'

    Lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi said that the fact that he was added to the list is surprising.

    "I’m just bewildered. I just cannot understand how I can relate to the Magnitsky Act. Several years passed since the act was introduced. I can’t understand what I did to be added on the list," the lawmaker told RIA Novosti.

    "I guess that before leaving office Obama is trying to use any possibility to do something bad to Russia. This is why the situation is absurd," Lugovoi added.

    In legal terms, no claims against Alexander Bastrykin and the four other Russian nationals on the list can be brought, according to Anatoly Vyborniy, deputy head of the Russian parliamentary anti-corruption and security committee.

    "In fact, this adds to the longstanding anti-Russian rhetoric. Such sanctions mean weakness because a strong person always reaches his hand and invites to the negotiating table," he pointed out.

    Asymmetric Response

    Head of the Russian parliamentary foreign affairs committee Leonid Slutsky said that asymmetric responsive measures cannot be ruled out.

    "Russia has a law on responsive measures to the Magnitsky Act. However, the decision on such a response should be made during close consultations. Taking into account the inauguration of Trump, the response may be asymmetric," he told journalists.

    According to him, it is symbolic that the Magnitsky Act was approved in the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term and marked the beginning in collapse of the reset between Moscow and Washington.

    However, Slutsky expressed hope that Donald Trump and his administration will change the US foreign policy vector towards Russia and start constructive dialogue with Moscow.

    Act of 'Unworthy Vengeance'

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that by taking such measures the outgoing US presidential administration wants to ruin ties between Moscow and Washington.

    "The fourth hostile attack on the part of the outgoing US administration in less than three weeks… could be left without comment at all – the inadequacy of Washington leaders, who have fallen into a 'sanctions mania', is obvious to all," Ryabkov said.

    He added the White House, by its new sanctions, exhibits "simply shameful" behavior of unworthy vengeance, adding that the Obama administration could do a lot in its remaining 10 days to complicate relations with Russia even more.

    Sanctions affect Russia-US ties in an extremely negative fashion, but Moscow is ready for dialogue and welcomes it even in such conditions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    "The sanctions remain an element which affects our bilateral relations extremely negatively, but at the same time even in conditions of sanctions, without doubt, Moscow would welcome and be ready for any opportunities for dialogue," Peskov told reporters.


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    • avatar
      What Obama is doing is confirming to all that he is indeed a complete ASS.
    • avatar
      Obama's comrades want to make sure he gets the bottom spot in the history of all US presidents. And they will succeed. And everyone knows by now that he was their puppet all along. All 8 years.
    • avatar
      Obama will go into American history as the worst President in modern times. He achieved nothing domestically and internationally, validating the doubt if he ever was qualified to become the President of the USA. His only accomplishment in Obamacare may be repealed by Trump. His treaty on Iran's nuclear program is also in question by both sides.

      He was weak and buckled under pressure from special interest groups and in fear of or in cahoots with despicable neocons. During his time, the USA watched, and some claim promoted, the destruction of Syria along with genocide in Iraq and Syria by Western-supported Wahabi terrorists.
    • avatar
      Walter Wolf
      Wondering again, why Obama did not create any list to intervene with Chinese internal affairs? Russia has no death sentence while China annually executes over 5000 officials, businessmen, and so on.
      Whats a black hypocrisy. It makes me sure that there was nothing wrong about detention of Magnitskiy but was certain interest of clintobama in M. list.
    • avatar
      Walter Wolfin reply toalex_glazunov(Show commentHide comment)
      Hi had beaten the record of inauguration bals number - 10 in 2015. Ok that's because he wanted to prove that he is not monkey. Well, then why he made Health insurance premiums doubled? Why he doubled American debt from 10 to 20 trillion bucks? And now this monkey speaks loudly of his great achievements. Faggots hail him.
    • avatar
      Obonga has harm the interest oft the usa around the World !!! Iran has never thrust the usa terror state and Obonga has give the proof !!!
      He has destroy Syria and with it the culture in Europe !!!
      He has destroy Ukraine and the people suffer and die over there !!!
      Obomga's secretary the Old Bag has destroy Libya !!!
      Iraq is destroyed by Obonga
      Millions of dead the usa regime is direct responsible for !!!
      He could not save his fellow black people for the police !!!
      He could not bring proof of the Russia hacking the President voting !!!!
      What a record this bla bla President has !!! A war crime person he is !!!
    • horseguards
      The real reasons for the US sanctions is President Putin's abandonment - or, as the US regards it, "betrayal" - of the Comintern. The State Department is now rudderless in its quest for a police state.
    • Aitken
      Omonkey just cementing his legacy of failure
    • avatar
      Next week may be the worst for Russia under Obummer. No telling what this mulatto mad-dog will do during his last few days in office. Russia needs to remain calm and not react. It will only give the neo-liberal thrash fuel.
    • avatar
      This last week could be the worst. During his last moments, Obummer might pull some very nasty stuff.
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