Russia-US relations see new year chill
Relations between the Russian Federation and the United States took a nose dive at the turn of 2012 and 2013, as Russia passed a bill banning U.S adoptions of Russian children, international media reported.
“The document bans entry to Russia by U.S nationals who have been found in violation of human rights and freedoms,” The Voice of Russia radio wrote on its website. “It also puts an end to U.S adoptions of Russian orphans, and outlaws organizations dealing with the selection and handover of Russian children to their adoptive parents in the United States.”
The Dima Yakovlev bill – named after a Russian orphan who died from neglect in the U.S – was passed by the Russian Duma on December 28 2012.
The U.S State Department issued a statement saying that it “deeply regretted” the passing of the new bill and saw this as a “politically motivated decision.”
The Dima Yakovlev bill was also criticized by high rank officials in Moscow, including foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Russian daily Ria Novosti. It is being regarded by some U.S commentators as political retaliation for the Magnitsky Law passed in the U.S in early December 2012.
The bill, banning the entry of corrupt Russian officials into the U.S, was named after Sergei Magnitsky – a lawyer hired by British investment fund Hermitage Capital to investigate tax fraud. He uncovered a USD 230 mln fraud and implicated Russian officials in the scandal.
Magnitsky was arrested in November 2008 and died a year later, allegedly from repeated brutal beatings. He has since become a symbol of the violation of human rights in Russia and the corruption of the Russian administration.
U.S Senator and strong supporter of the Magnitsky Law, John McCain, called the Russian bill “appalling.”
“The effects of this legislation are cruel and malicious,” McCain said, according to U.S current affairs newspaper The New York Times. “To punish innocent babies and children over a political disagreement between our governments is a new low, even for Putin’s Russia,” McCain added.
Meanwhile, the Russian prosecutor’s office has accused Magnitsky and former Heritage Capital boss William B of tax evasion to the tune of RUB 522 mln (USD 17 mln). Magnitsky will be tried post-mortem, while William B, who is a British citizen, will most probably be judged in default.