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Russians draft 'Guantanamo list' to sanction U.S. officials

January 18, 2013|By Sergei L. Loiko
  • Thousands of demonstrators marched through downtown Moscow Sunday carrying portraits of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian lawmakers and senators who voted for the law banning U.S. families from adopting Russian orphans. The red line across the face on the poster read: "Shame."
Thousands of demonstrators marched through downtown Moscow Sunday carrying… (Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles…)

MOSCOW -- Russia has prepared the “Guantanamo list” of U.S. officials who will be denied entry visas, officials in Moscow said Friday, the latest apparent retaliation for a U.S. law imposing sanctions on Russians over the death of an activist lawyer.

Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the foreign relations committee in the lower house of parliament, said Friday the list as drafted last month initially included 11 U.S. officials involved in running the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and other sites allegedly used by the U.S. and its allies as secret prisons to hold terrorism suspects. The list was expanded this month to 60 people, he said.

Among U.S. officials added to the list were “judges, investigators, justice ministry officials and special services agents who were involved in Russian citizens Viktor Bout’s and Konstantin Yaroshenko’s legal prosecution and sentencing to long terms of imprisonment,” he said.

Bout, an arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a U.S. District Court in New York. Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in 2011 for smuggling cocaine.

Pushkov also said that the list included members of Congress and American citizens allegedly guilty of the maltreatment and death of Russian orphans they adopted, as well as “judges who passed wrong rulings on those cases and psychiatrists who asserted that those children had inborn defects and serious development deviations which caused their deaths.”

The list may be expanded to include other U.S. officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RIA Novosti.

The U.S. measure -- the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which was signed into law by President Obama last month -- imposed visa restrictions and froze the U.S. bank accounts of Russian officials involved in the death of Magnitsky.

The lawyer blew the whistle on a multimillion-dollar tax scam allegedly carried out by Russian officials and police officers. He died in a Moscow prison in 2009 while awaiting trial, allegedly the victim of torture.

Russia already responded to the U.S. law by banning adoption of Russian orphans by American couples as of Jan. 1.

In the last two decades, Americans have adopted over 60,000 orphans from Russia. There are still about 600,000 orphans in Russia, more than 120,000 of them eligible for adoption, officials said. Russian families adopt about 7,000 orphans a year.

The adoption ban triggered protests in Russia. On Sunday, thousands of people walked through downtown Moscow in what they called "The March Against Scoundrels."

Moscow was going a bit far in its retaliation against the United States, said Lilia Shevtsova, senior researcher with Moscow Carnegie Center.

“The Kremlin publicly admitted in the past that at least some of Russian inmates held in Guantanamo were really involved in terrorism,” Shevtsova said in an interview. “If they go like this they will soon impose visa restrictions on U.S. officials involved in the liquidation of Osama bin Laden.”

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