14 Apr 2013

US officials barred from entering Russia

7:23 am on 14 April 2013

Moscow has banned 18 US citizens from entering Russia in retaliation for a US move to ban 18 Russians from the United States under a new law penalising Russian citizens suspected of taking part in human rights abuses.

The Obama administration on Friday issued a list of 18 people subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the United States under the Magnitsky Act legislation passed by Congress late last year.

Moscow said on Saturday that the United States had dealt a severe blow to mutual trust.

However, both governments kept high-level current officials off their lists in an apparent effort to contain the political damage.

The Americans barred from Russia under a law adopted in retaliation to the US Magnitsky Act included officials from the administration of former President George W Bush as well as officials involved in the prosecution of Russians now in US prisons.

President Vladimir Putin has frequently complained about what he says is the use by the United States of human rights concerns as a pretext for meddling in the affairs of Russia and other nations.