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Cold War Politics Redux

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On May 19, 2011, S. 1039: Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011 was introduced. No further action was taken.

On April 19, 2012, HR 4405: Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 was introduced. It awaits full House consideration.

Both Houses plan linking JV with Magnitsky. Doing so damages US/Russian relations. 

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian attorney. His 2009 death in police custody drew international media attention.

Employed by Firestone Duncan, he specialized in civil law. He did anti-corruption work. He represented Hermitage Capital. He uncovered evidence of tax fraud. He implicated the police, judiciary figures, tax officials, bankers, and Russia's mafia.

He was called "the 'go to guy' in Moscow on courts, taxes, fines, and anything to do with civil law."

In November 2008, he was arrested, imprisoned, and treated abusively. Held for 11 months, he was denied family visits. He developed serious health problems, but got inadequate treatment.

On November 16, 2009, he died for reasons attributed officially to a "rupture to the abdominal membrane" and subsequent heart attack. If trial proceedings didn't begin, he was due to be released eight days later.

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At the time, RIA Novosti said his death "caused public outrage and sparked discussion of the need to improve prison healthcare and to reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial in detention prisons."

In December 2009, an independent Moscow Public Oversight Commission said he was subjected to "psychological and physical pressure...."

One of its members first blamed his death on medical negligence. She later believed he was murdered. In November 2009, then President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an official investigation. In July 2011, it blamed his death on medical neglect.

House and Senate Magnitsky legislation imposes visa bans, asset freezes, and other sanctions on Russian nationals accused of committing human rights abuses. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls the measure "anti-Russian."

He's right. It's more about targeting Russia and Vladimir Putin than individual human rights abusers.

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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Moscow will introduce tough countermeasures if Magnitsky passes.

"If this outrageous move takes place, Moscow's reaction will be complex, multidimensional and really tough," he said. He urged Congress to reconsider. Otherwise, "negative consequences for the whole complex of Russian-US relations" would follow.

He called Magnitsky "inadmissible" extraterritorial legislation.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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