Sunday, November 18, 2012

U.S. House Passes Russian Trade Bill, with Human Rights Link

Despite warnings from Russian officials, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to drop Cold War-era trade restrictions, while taking a jab at the policies of President Vladimir Putin by publishing the names of Russians believed to be involved in the abuse and death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in 2009 in a Russian jail.  The bill, which still needs Senate approval, would establish "permanent normal trade relations", thus ensuring that U.S. companies get the full benefits of Russia's recent entry into the World Trade Organization.  The bill would also require the Obama administration to deny visas and freeze the assets of any individual on the list, as well as other human rights violators in Russia on an ongoing basis. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier on Friday that Russia has already prepared its next steps in response to the legislation, but gave no details. Other Russian officials have indicated that Moscow would retaliate by imposing sanctions on U.S. officials it accused of violating Russian citizens' rights.

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