The U.S. administration will no longer seek to prevent Congress from passing a bill targeting human-rights offenders in Russia, a step that President Vladimir Putin has warned would spark retaliation and damage ties.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will today consider legislation that would impose U.S. travel and financial curbs on any official abusing human rights in Russia, including 60 people suspected of involvement in the death of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow jail in 2009. This will be followed at a later date by a vote in Congress on the measure.
“You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would bet against Congress expressing their concerns on the Magnitsky matter in some way,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said today in Moscow. “It’s important to work with Congress on an appropriate mandatory response to that.”
President Barack Obama’s administration is seeking to repeal trade restrictions with Russia to prevent U.S. companies from being penalized once Russian membership of the World Trade Organization takes effect later this year. A bipartisan group of senators has made a repeal of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment conditional on imposing sanctions on Russian officials for human-rights violations.