Russia responds in kind to US Magnitsky list

Former US vice-presidential chief of staff David Addington - 2005 photo
Image caption Bush administration official David Addington is one of those on the list

Russia has published a list of 18 US officials barred from the country, in response to a similar US list published by the US Treasury on Friday.

A statement described the US move as a severe blow to relations, and said blackmail could not be ignored.

The US published its list under an act named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in jail in 2009 in disputed circumstances.

It includes officials who jailed him after he accused them of corruption.

But senior officials from President Vladimir Putin's entourage who had been expected to be included were left off, including Russia's top police official Alexander Bastrykin.

Russia's list, announced by the foreign ministry, includes two former Bush administration officials who are said to have advocated harsh interrogation techniques and two former commanders of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

David Addington, chief of staff to former Vice-President Dick Cheney is one of them.

The other 14 were named as having violated the rights of Russian citizens abroad.

"The war of lists is not our choice, but we cannot ignore outright blackmail," a statement from the Russian ministry said.

"It's time for Washington politicians to finally understand that there are no prospects in building relations with a country like Russia with the spirit of mentoring and undisguised dictating."

Itar-Tass news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying there was also a secret section to the list with more names, as the US list had.

A Russian law barring Americans from adopting Russian orphans, regarded as a response to the US law, has already been passed.

Visit overshadowed

Image caption The row over Magnitsky threatens to cast a shadow over US-Russia relations

The final US list published on Friday included people born in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, 16 of them linked to the Magnitsky case. Some 250 names had originally been put forward by US politicians.

The others are officials deemed to have participated in recent Kremlin moves to restrict Russians' political rights.

Mr Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 for tax evasion after accusing Russian police officials of stealing US $230m (£150m) from the state through fraudulent tax rebates. His family and rights groups say he was badly beaten and denied medical treatment in custody.

The Magnitsky Act passed by Washington in 2012 blacklists Russian officials accused of involvement in his death. All the names on the list had until Friday been kept secret.

Those affected by the American measures have had their US accounts frozen and have been added to a list of people who will be denied US entry visas. Some European nations are taking similar measures.

Correspondents say that the argument threatens to cast a shadow over a visit to Russia by President Obama's National Security adviser Tom Donilon, who is to hold high-level talks in Moscow on Monday.

The posthumous trial of Mr Magnitsky - who died aged 37 in pre-trial detention after developing pancreatitis - opened in Moscow in March but was adjourned shortly afterwards.

Legal experts say they are unaware of any precedents for the trial of a dead man in Russian history.

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