MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) – The US Magnitsky Act, which introduces sanctions for Russian officials deemed to have violated human rights, is a demonstrative step replacing the outdated Jackson-Vanik amendment, Russia’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
“The Magnitsky Act was a demonstrative move. I am strongly convinced that it was designed to show that life is not all honey [for Russia] after the Jackson-Vanik amendment was abolished,” Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiya TV channel, published on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
Late last year, the US Senate approved the legislation, simultaneously repealing the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik restrictions on trade with Russia and introducing visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials considered by the White House to be guilty of human rights violations.
The decision to link the rights legislation to the trade bill has angered Russia, which introduced the Dima Yakovlev Law, banning adoptions of Russian children by US parents. It would also see alleged US rights abusers blacklisted for Russian entry, their assets in Russia seized and operations there by their companies suspended.
Since Russia’s accession to the WTO last August, the obsolete law prevented US businesses from enjoying the benefits of newly opened Russian markets, Lavrov said. “But they did not want to abolish it [Jackson-Vanik amendment] simply for free,” he said.
“I have no doubt that we must have responded [to the Magnitsky Act] the way we did,” Lavrov said.
Russian officials blame US adoptive parents for the deaths of at least 19 of those children. The adoption ban is named after Dima Yakovlev (known also by his American name, Chase Harrison), a Russian toddler who died of heatstroke in 2008 after his American adoptive father accidentaly left him in an overheated car for hours.
More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including 962 last year, according to US State Department figures.