Moscow vows to retaliate against 'absurd' US rights vote

6th December 2012, Comments 0 comments

Russia vowed Thursday to retaliate against what it called an "absurd" vote in the US Congress to end Cold War-era trade restrictions on Moscow that attached a measure targeting human rights abusers.

"The decision by the US Senate ... which under false pretences will introduce visa and financial sanctions against some Russian citizens is a theatre of the absurd," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that Russia would be "forced to retaliate".

The new legislation, which still needs to be signed by President Barack Obama, would compel the US government to freeze the assets of and deny entry to anyone tied to the 2009 death in prison of the Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

"It's important to realise that the law adopted by the Senate will have a very negative influence on the future of our bilateral cooperation," warned the foreign ministry, underlining recent progress made in that realm.

The US Congress voted Thursday to end Cold War-era trade restrictions on Russia after it joined the WTO, but attached to the vote was the measure targeting rights abusers.

Magnitsky was arrested after he accused police and tax agents of embezzlement and money laundering.

Magnitsky died at the age of 37 from untreated medical conditions including acute pancreatitis after being held in a notoriously squalid prison.

© 2012 AFP

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