We did not initiate the visa row with US – Russian lawmaker

“Russia never concealed the fact that we have made ablacklist of US citizens after the US Congress passed the MagnitskyAct. We have warned them, but we were not the initiators of thisprocess,” MP Aleksey Pushkov was quoted as saying by theRussian News Service radio.The comment came after Republican Chris Smith, the chairman ofthe House subcommittee on Human Rights said in a Wednesdayinterview that he had been denied Russian visa for the first timeand linked this with his sponsorship of Magnitsky Act – the recentUS laws that imposes sanctions on Russian officials allegedlycomplicit in human rights violations.Chris Smith said that this was the first time he was deniedRussian visa adding that he managed to travel to the Soviet Union“during its worst days”. Other countries who have deniedentry to Chris Smith are China, Cuba and Belarus he added.According to Smith, Russian ambassador to US told him that thedecision on visa denial had been made in Moscow and personalinterference of the US ambassador to Russia has not improved thesituation.Russian embassy in Washington has said that it was not givingofficial comments on its visa policy.Russian officials repeatedly blasted the Magnitsky Act as anattempt to influence justice, intervention in the internal affairsof a sovereign state. Soon after the act was drafted as a bill theRussian side warned that it would retaliate with a similar action.In 2012 Russian Foreign Ministry issued a classified blacklist ofUS citizens comprised of individuals that Russia believed werecomplicit in Human Rights violations at the Guantanamo detentioncenter. Earlier this year the list was extended to 60 people andnow includes the officials and law enforcers who are believed to bea part of illegal prosecution of Russian nationals.In late January Russian deputy foreign minister Andrei Belovtold the press that his country had officially denied a visa to aUS admiral who used to be the head of the Guantanamo prison. He didnot give the admiral’s name, but the mass media suggested that thediplomat was talking about Rear Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson.Russia also introduced the DimaYakovlev Law from the beginning of 2013. The law, seen as anofficial reply to Magnitsky Act, provides for an entry ban and anasset freeze for all foreign citizens who are suspected of humanrights violations in Russia. The law also contains an amendmentthat bans all adoptions of Russian orphans by US citizens and byproxy of US organizations. This happened after Russian diplomatsrepeatedly complained of the US side’s unwillingness to cooperatein cases of child abuse involving adopted Russian kids.The situation with the adopted Russian children in US wasactually the reason behind Chris Smith’s plans to visit to Russia.The US politician has said that he shared the legitimate concernsof the Russian officials and prepared a resolution , highlightingthe death of 19 Russian children adopted by US parents.The politician also said he was going to reapply.

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We did not initiate the visa row with US – Russian lawmaker

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