April 12th, 2013
09:29 PM ET

U.S. releases blacklist tied to alleged Russia rights abuses

By Elise Labott

The United States published a blacklist of alleged human rights abusers in Russia on Friday as part of a law that threatens to further strain ties between Washington and Moscow.

The Magnitsky Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama last December, imposes visa bans and freezes assets of accused human rights abusers as well as those believed responsible for the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky uncovered the largest tax fraud in the country's history in the form of rebates claimed by government officials who stole money from the state. He was apparently beaten to death in 2009 after a year in a Moscow detention center.

An additional list submitted to Congress, which is classified, includes people who are subject only to the travel ban.

The blacklist includes six people said to be linked to the Magnitsky case, including senior officials in the Russian interior ministry, prosecutors, judges, prison officials and tax officers.

"The November 2009 death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention in Moscow was a tragedy and the investigation into his death has yielded no visible result," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

"Russian officials implicated directly in Magnitsky's imprisonment and prison officials directly involved in the series of decisions that led to his death remain unpunished," Hayden said.

Other blacklisted names were tied to other high profile cases.

One was accused in the 2006 shooting death of a Chechen man who filed claims against Moscow with the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg for human rights violations in Chechnya.

The other is believed to have played a part in the 2004 murder of American Paul Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes' magazine's Russian edition in what was viewed as an attempt to quash investigative journalism in the country.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the blacklist would have a "very negative effect on bilateral Russian-American relations."

But he appeared to play down the long term impact, saying ties between Moscow and Washington were multi-faced and still had potential for growth.

A senior State Department official told reporters the list was the product of an investigation based on information from non-governmental organizations and other information made available to the United States.

The official said the rigorous standards used to develop this list were similar to those used to designate individuals and companies on other U.S. blacklists. Additional names would be added to the blacklist, should more information become available, the official said.

Absent from the list were certain Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin.

But the senior State Department official said "political considerations" in the U.S. relationship with Russia were "not a factor" and that additional names could be added to the blacklist, should additional information become available.

"The principal consideration was the status of the information about people and whether we felt the U.S. government standards for freezing the assets of individuals were met," one senior State Department official said. "This is serious business and I think the list was put together with diligence and seriousness."

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, a co-sponsor of the Magnitsky Act, said in a statement it was an important first step.

"While the list is timid and features more significant omissions than names, I was assured by administration officials today that the investigation is ongoing and further additions will be made to the list as new evidence comes to light," McGovern said a statement.

The law has generated friction between the United States and Russia, which has blasted it as a political ploy and an interference in the affairs of a sovereign state.

Following congressional action, Putin signed a Russian law banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans. The foreign ministry has also drawn up its own list of U.S. officials it accuses of committing human rights violations.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned Friday the publication of the list risked overshadowing the visit of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who is scheduled to visit Moscow on Monday.

"The choice of timing was not entirely favorable," Lavrov said, considering Donilon's visit is meant to address the broad aspects of the U.S.-Russia relationship. If the list is published, we will react and our American partners know that."

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. seo

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    April 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  2. Wisdom

    On reflection,over the last twenty-four hours it appears that U.S society itself appears to have its own cracks developing even as Russia had before its divisions into looser states.By comparison by looking into the mirror chaos has never been the given reflection but a patchwork of new legislation appears to suggest simply this- bandaid after bandaid

    April 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  3. Bill shine

    I can't take this seriously. We have Bill Montgomery, the Maricopa county district attorney here in Phoenix Arizona charging illegal aliens with a class 4 felony for having a fake I'd, and charging under 21 college kids with a misdemeanor for the same offense. That is a fairly serious human rights abuse. And, it's being done right here in the USA, Hiw about our former district attorney, Andrew Thomas, a Harvard law graduate, arresting newspaper publishers in the dead of night for what they had printed (Phoenix New Times, Kacey and Larkin). That's a human rights abuse. I guess that expecting the U.S. congress to actually have a few sane individuals in it with balls, who aren't hypocrites, is dreaming. Don't criticize Russia if your own house isn't clean.

    April 17, 2013 at 1:05 am | Reply
  4. helenecha

    The whole case is like that Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died of the group of human rights abuse, and the U.S. has jailed them and placed them in somewhere other than the United States of America.

    April 15, 2013 at 12:47 am | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Just who are we Americans to talk about human rights, helenecha? You seem to forget that those cowardly butchers who operate those cursed drones from some air conditioned office here in the U.S. are also Americans. And so was Richard Speck, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahlmer, and the list goes on....

      April 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
      • Pete

        @marine5484,that's if you are a jar head bud..You had the choice to go to any branch of service you wanted so quit bad mouthin drone operators because you weren't smart enough to pass the tests .You weren't drafted either so quit belly achin like a little girl because its your fault plain and simple bud..My son operated drones and he was proud he served because it took more brains than brawn and guess what could you get a job back home with your training in the marines soldier,my son did !!

        April 16, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • 1371usmc

        he is not a marine you should have known by his comments he is a goat humper acting like a marine

        April 17, 2013 at 5:00 am |
      • Pete

        @1371usmc,I appreciate the heads up that's why I said it,no disrespect to you but my son served as a drone operator for the Navy and was proud he served that's all..Like I stated many times before you as a marine had a choice of which branch of service you wanted to enlist in not being drafted as my brother did in Nam and shouldn't as you haven't hold my son accountable for being what he was an operator of drones and proud of it..Thanks again for YOUR SERVICE and we'll be meeting again...Tell that raghead we'll be meeting again and he knows he's mine the camel jock!!

        April 17, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  5. Ruth

    People seem to forget the face of evil

    April 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  6. Pete

    Just go get Bush,Cheneys with lies of WMDs and thousands dead for nothing but getting them rich in an oil wealthy nation in Iraq..Take them to the Hague,Netherlands and hang them like Hitlers boys in the SS because they weren't much different making money off of other peoples expense. 150 countries recognise it with indictments for human rights violations so why don't we,typical hypocrites putting our government officials above all else praising instead of hanging these arrogent monsters for what they've done ,kill thousands to become wealthy and ignorent republicans still praise these idiots .So much for intelligence from republicans right!!

    April 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      I guess it also don't say much for the Democrat controlled congress that voted for it. Oh you forgot that part.

      April 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Since President Obama has just kept walking the same line as Bush as far as war we need to take him too.

      April 13, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Reply
      • Pete

        @1371usmc,Yah so they fell for Colin Powells speech as well as the UN and Colins career went down the tubes after that didn't it...Just relaying the lies from his commander in chief right in Cheney the puppetmaster in charge..How come marine 150 countries but us want Bush,Cheney,others for human rights violations in the deaths of thousands of innocent military men,women and Iraqi civilians,illegal torture,wiretaps and you tell me what's wrong wanting them tried at the Hague where Hitlers boys in the SS were prosecuted and hanged..And how Cheney even like Bush after shaking hands with our injured,disabled soldiers said publicly he'd do it all over again with no remorse...You go stand along side those murderers if you like but I'd like to be the one pulling the switch that ends their miserable existence for starting those wars with lies like it or not and I don't as you've read!!!

        April 14, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • 1371usmc

        I didn't say you were wrong I just pointed out a few others that should be on that list.

        April 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
      • Pete

        @1371usmc,thanks for seeing it my way and if you go farther reading you'll see that Pres.Obama has extended security details for Cheney and has protected Bushs ass as well from going to trial..There's a lot more out there once you start digging I can tell yah!!

        April 15, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  7. ToraFetah

    United States & Israel = Threat to World Peace.

    April 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  8. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    April 13, 2013 at 12:47 am | Reply
    • jonny

      is that the only answere you have to everything, Get a life or better yet go live in one of your muslim countrys where someone may listen to your endless bs

      April 13, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Reply
      • George Patton-2

        Ignore my Pakistani brother, he is little coo coo

        April 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  9. David O

    Any list that omits Vladimir Putin is a sham. Nothing of the magnitude of the death of Sergei Magnitsky happens without the knowledge of and at least the tacit approval of Putin.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Reply
    • themainone

      very true. Putin must be on this list as he was in charge of the government and probably ordered his death as he as ordered so many deaths. He wished for the death of the former president of Georgia. He kills his opponents. I wonder if Putin will be like Pinochet and arrested and sent to prison.

      April 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  10. wjm

    Russia has since the time of Gorbachev and Yeltsin been control by the former KGB crowd, I mean look at Putin, he runs things for two terms then set up his puppet Medvedev for a term and then put himself back in charge. These theives are still stealing under the guise of governance and ripping off the Russian people. Its time the people of Russia have to rid themselves of these criminals.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply

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