The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations may discuss in April a 2011 bill to impose sanctions on Russian officials implicated in the detention death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the committee’s chairman John Kerry said.
“I'd like to try to put it on a business meeting for when we return [from the April 2 - April 13 recess], and we should aim to do it,” Kerry said.
Senator Benjamin Cardin introduced the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011” last May, but no legislative action has been taken on it so far. U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said it was redundant as the U.S. already compiled a blacklist of Russian officials linked to Magnitsky’s death, who are subject to a travel ban and asset freeze.
Cardin said his bill should be passed simultaneously with discussions on the abolishment of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, an American piece of legislation from 1974 that introduced economic sanctions against the Soviet Union.
“The best opportunity for passing it would be in conjunction with legislation on trade relations with Russia that is expected to come before Congress in the coming months,” he said.
The Jackson-Vanik amendment limits trade with Russia and is an obstacle to the application of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules between the two countries.
Cardin, along with Republicans John McCain and Roger Wicker and independent Joe Lieberman, made it clear in mid-March that the Senate was unlikely to retire the Jackson-Vanik amendment without adopting the Magnitsky bill, the Wall Street Journal said.
A number of western countries spoke in favor of blacklists of Russian officials recently. The Netherlands has placed a similar visa ban on Russian officials. Swedish and U.K. lawmakers requested their governments earlier this month to press for a Europe-wide asset freeze and travel ban.
Magnitsky died while being detained after accusing officials of fraud in 2009. He suffered deliberate neglect and beatings before dying in his cell a year later, the Kremlin rights body said in a report last year. Two doctors were charged over his death in August last year.