Posts Tagged ‘john fritze’

April 2013

Cardin to meet with family of Russian lawyer

Baltimore Sun

Sen. Ben Cardin is scheduled to meet Thursday with the family of a Russian lawyer whose death sparked an international outcry over human rights in that country, renewing focus on a controversy that has complicated U.S.-Russian relations at a sensitive time.

The meeting with the widow, mother and son of Sergei Magnitsky — who died in a Russian jail in 2009 after exposing corruption in the Russian government — comes just days after the State Department released a list of Russian officials barred from obtaining U.S. visas over alleged human rights abuses.

The list was required by a law championed by Cardin, a Maryland Democrat. He named the legislation for Magnitsky.

The Obama administration is trying to move beyond the controversy that erupted when Congress passed the law last year. While relations with Moscow remain strained — aggravated by differences over the civil war in Syria — the White House is seeking cooperation on Iran and the escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he is not concerned that his meeting with the Magnitsky family or the naming of Russian officials prohibited from traveling in the United States might disrupt those broader international efforts.

“We can deal with more than one subject at a time,” he said in an interview.

The meeting, he said, “gives us a chance to underscore the importance of these new standards, of not abating on gross violators of internationally recognized human rights standards.”

Russian officials seem to be making a distinction between the White House and the Congress. The officials responded positively to a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon this week and a letter from President Barack Obama to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. The two leaders are expected to meet later this year.

But those officials criticized what they described as a “Russiaphobic” Congress, a reference to the Magnitsky language. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in December to pass the measure after it was attached to a broader trade bill that was a priority for both countries.

The Putin administration has said the Magnitsky provision represents meddling in Russian affairs.

The measure required the State Department to publicly release a list of Russian human rights abusers, deny them visas and prohibit them from accessing U.S. banks.

The department released a list of 18 officials, most of whom were involved in the Magnitsky case, on Saturday. The Kremlin responded with a list that included several top U.S. officials involved with running the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Last year, Russia passed a law banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children. It is named after a young Russian orphan who died in Virginia in 2008 after being left in a car by his adoptive father but is viewed as a retaliation for the Magnitsky Act.

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