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FACTBOX-A look at the Magnitsky Act

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 27 Dec 2012 04:51 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Dec 27 (Reuters) - A bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children went to President Vladimir Putin for his signature on Wednesday after winning final approval from parliament in response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russians alleged human rights abusers. ,

Here is a look at the Magnitsky bill:

* President Barack Obama signed a bill on Dec. 14 that brought U.S. trade relations with Russia up to date and set "permanent normal trade relations" - or PNTR - with Russia by lifting a Cold War-era restriction on trade. The Cold War-era provision was known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment and would no longer apply to Russia. The 1974 provision tied favourable U.S. tariff rates to Jewish emigration from the former Soviet Union and was at odds with U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organisation. Russia joined the WTO last August.

* Russia has, however, objected to one provision of this bill - the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 - which bars Russian human rights violators from entering the United States and would freeze any assets they have in U.S. banks. The provision is named in honour of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer many U.S. lawmakers believe was beaten to death in a Russian jail in 2009.

* The bill directs the government to publish and update a list of each person the Secretary of State had reason to believe was responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Magnitsky, or participated in related concealment efforts, or financially benefited from his detention, abuse, or death, or was involved in the criminal conspiracy uncovered by the lawyer.

* This list would also include those responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violations committed against individuals seeking to expose illegal activity carried out by Russian officials, or against persons seeking to promote human rights and freedoms.

* Sergei Magnitsky was a lawyer for the equity fund Hermitage Capital. He accused a group of police investigators of stealing around ${esc.dollar}230 million from the Russian state in 2007 through fraudulent tax refunds. Former colleagues say the same police investigators accused him of orchestrating the fraud himself and arrested him in November 2008. He was held in a pre-trial detention centre, but died in custody nearly a year later on Nov. 16, 2009. (Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Paul Simao)

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