Sunday, 21 April 2013
White House rounds off rough corners for 'those Russians'
The Obama Administration sent for the approval of the U.S. Congress the "Magnitsky list" that includes 18 people. 16 of them are directly linked with the case of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Another two were included on certain humanitarian grounds. All of them, in case of approval by the Congress, will not be able to visit the United States, and their assets, first of all, bank accounts, will be frozen. The list includes a former investigator of the Investigation Department Pavel Karpov, Senior Counselor of Justice Oleg Logunov, former head of Butyrka prison Dmitry Komnov; judges of Tver Court of Moscow Alexei Krivoruchko, Sergei Podoprigorov, Elena Stashina, and Svetlana Ukhnaleva; heads of the Moscow tax inspectorates Olga Stepanova and Elena Khimina; deputy head of the Department for Combating Tax Crimes Artem Kuznetsov, deputy head of the deparment investigation of high profile cases of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Andrei Pechegin, prison administrator of "Matrosskaya Tishina" Ivan Prokopenko, investigator Oleg Sil'chenko, employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Dmitry Tolchinsky and Alex Drogan; deputy chief of the Committee at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation Natalia Vinogradova, a member of the regiment of the private security department of the Chechen Interior Ministry Lecha Bogatyrev, and Russian businessman Kazbek Dukuzov. ITAR-TASS news agency noted that the published list contains the names of a number of government officials who resigned long time ago. It is worth noting that the founder of Hermitage Capital, William Browder is trying to avoid litigation with ex-investigator Pavel Karpov included in the U.S. list. The exact number of people on the list was intriguing. The Obama administration advocated for making it as short as possible to minimize the negative consequences of its approval. The Congress, by contrast, was not averse to expanding it to include politicians and officials allegedly involved in human rights violations. The apotheosis was the list proposed to the White House by Congressman James McGovern's that included 280 people. McGovern said that if the administration tried to shorten it, the Congress would adopt an even tougher version. It is hardly an accident that "the list of McGovern's" is almost entirely copied from the letter compiled by the so-called "Coordinating Council of the Opposition." Some of its members not only make no secret of their ties with Washington, but strongly emphasize them. However, as it turned out, the opinion of the Russian opposition is not considered very important in the U.S. Of course, the list of the Congressman is too much, and the White House could not support it because of the unpredictability of the consequences of such a step. On the other hand, there is little reason to believe that the list of 18 names is a step towards Russia. The absence of such the list could be considered as such. Besides, as it became known later, there is an additional, secret list. The names of the officials included in that list have not been disclosed. In this case, however, it has to do only with visa restrictions. The assets are not discussed, because such sanctions have to be declared publicly in accordance with a legal requirement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, commenting on Friday on the situation with the "Magnitsky list", said that the time for the publication chosen by Washington was not "entirely successful". "U.S. president's aid on national security is coming to Moscow on Monday to discuss the message of President Obama with detailed ideas of prospects for Russian-American cooperation," said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Political analyst Alexei Mukhin drew attention to the fact that the publication of the list coincided with the audits of non-profit organizations on the territory of Russia. "Even quite understandable legal attempts to bring these NGOs out of the shadow are perceived very anxiously by the non-profit organizations and their probable sponsors," he said. "The United States, on the one hand, fears worsening of the relations with Russia, because too many American companies are operating on the territory of our country and are interested in collaboration. On the other hand, there is political establishment not bound by any economic obligations or without any economic interest on the territory of Russia. It is solving the internal issues by showing voters the fight with "those Russians," said Alexei Mukhin. "The list itself is not justified, because, for example, the criteria for inclusion of people there are not clear. Therefore it should be treated as a political document, and not be perceived as guidance for action," stressed the analyst. As for the Russian response, according to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov, Moscow is not going to have a competition in this regard. "We will not compete in the bad sense of this word, we will not run ahead of the Americans in terms of the number of persons to be included in our list, but we will respond," the diplomat said.