The U.S. administration continues to support a bill imposing sanctions on Russian officials allegedly linked to the death in custody of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the U.S. Department of State spokesperson said.
The bill imposing a visa ban and asset freeze on Russian officials the U.S. suspects of being linked to Magnitsky’s death, as well as on “individuals responsible for other gross violations of human rights.”
“We do support the goals of the legislation,” Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said. “We have programs already in place to ensure that we are sanctioning those who are responsible for human rights abuses, and we are continuing our dialogue with the Congress about how we can appropriately make the views of the Congress and the American people known.”
The Magnitsky Act, if approved, “will create a systemic, routine way of dealing with it and a clear set of guidelines that the Congress and the Administration agree to and understand and that are clear on the Russian side,” Nuland said.
“At the same time, that we strongly favor the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik legislation, as really being a relic of the past that doesn’t apply to today’s situation,” she added.
The announcement was made shortly after U.S. media reports that the bill may be considered by the Senate in May, not this week as it was previously planned.
“After what several Senate aides described as intense lobbying from top Obama administration officials, including Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John] Kerry decided not to put the bill on the agenda of the next business meeting, delaying consideration of the bill until May at the earliest, after the visit to the U.S. of Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin,” the Cable blog on the Foreign Policy magazine’s website says.
Putin is due to visit the U.S. on May 18-19 to attend a G-8 meeting.