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Putin Calls For End to Jackson-Vanik, Slates Magnitsky Bill

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hopes for the soonest possible cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hopes for the soonest possible cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.

“I hope the amendment, which discriminates against Russia on U.S. markets, will be canceled, the more so as we have joined the World Trade Organization, and its preservation would only harm American companies working on the Russian market,” Putin told journalists after the G20 summit in Mexico.

“The United States is itself interested in canceling the amendment,” he said, adding that the cancelation would boost bilateral trade.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment, passed in 1974, barred favorable trade relations with the Soviet Union because it wouldn’t let Jewish citizens emigrate. It has been defunct for the past two decades, and both Moscow and Washington have warned that, if not repealed, it would be an obstacle to productive U.S.-Russian trade relations when Russia joins the WTO. The restrictions imposed by Jackson-Vanik are often waived, but remain in place and are a thorn in the side of Russia-U.S. trade relations.

A group of influential U.S. senators, including former Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, proposed in mid-March introducing a blacklist of Russian officials allegedly linked to Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death, in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in November 2009, in exchange for Jackson-Vanik cancellation.

During Tuesday’s press conference in Los Cabos, Putin reiterated Russia’s position on the linking of the Magnitsky list and the Jackson-Vanik amendment.

“If there are any restrictions for some Russian nationals’ entry to the United States, then there will be relevant restrictions for the entry of a certain number of Americans to the Russian Federation,” he said.

“I do not know why and who needs that, but if someone does this, it will be like this,” Putin said. “But this is not our choice.”

Magnitsky was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, just days after accusing police investigators in a $230 million tax refund fraud, and died after almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

Moscow has previously warned the U.S. administration that replacement of Jackson-Vanik amendment with the Magnitsky blacklist is 'unacceptable'.

The U.S. Administration on June 18 said it considers it necessary to distinguish between the adoption of the Magnitsky blacklist and the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.


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