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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: February 2, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Bans Five American Officials in Retaliation for Latest Magnitsky List Additions
6 years
Investigative Committee Passes Parliamentary Inquiry to Probe Prosecutor Chaika - to Chaika Himself
Not surprisingly, given the reciprocity war going on between the White House and the Kremlin, the Russian Foreign Ministry has announced the banning of five American officials following the addition of five Russian officials to the Magnitsky List of sanctions for involvement in the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention and other severe human rights violations.

The list of Americans are as follows:

- Alberto R. Gonzalez, former Attorney General 
- Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
- John Rizzo, former Acting General Counsel for the CIA
- Jay Scott Bybee, former Assistant Attorney General
- William James Hanes II, former General Counsel for the Department of Defense
All of these officials have been alleged by US human rights groups to justify or implement torture programs during the Iraq War.

In a statement about their sanctions, the Foreign Ministry said the charges against the Russian officials were "baseless" and "will strike the latest blow against bilateral relations." It accused the US of "continuing to methodically destroy their bias by regularly disseminating false information against Russia."

The Foreign Ministry concedes Magnitsky's fate was "tragic" and even calls him a "lawyer" (yurist) an issue sometimes in dispute by Russian propagandists because Magnitsky, who worked as a tax auditor, while performing legal functions, did not have attorney's status in Russia. Yet his case is described by the Ministry as a "bargaining chip" in an "unscrupulous campaign by Washington to discredit our country" -- despite the overwhelming volume of evidence that Russian officials discredited their country themselves with their rampant abuses.

The Foreign Ministry also accused the US of "hypocrisy" regarding human rights because it has not released the Russian citizen R.K. Mingazov, who has been held on Guantanamo for 13 years as the US maintains he was an Al Qaeda operative cooperating with the Taliban.

Two other cases of alleged US human rights violations were cited by the Foreign Minister -- "the tragic situations of K.V. Yaroshenko and R.V. Seleznyov" who were jailed and were claimed to be denied medical care.

As the Christian Science Monitor reported, Seleznyov is a hacker arrested for credit card theft, and the son of a famous father who is a member of the Russian parliament; Yaroshenko was convicted in Manhattan Federal Court and sentenced to 20 years for importing $100 million of cocaine. Seleznyov's father, Vladimir, claims his son was nabbed to trade him for fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but the problem with that theory is that Seleznyov was arrested before Snowden went public with his own hacking.

The Foreign Ministry finished by citing American police abuses motivated by racism; the abusive penitentiary system; and the "legalization" of medieval torture methods. Russia's own numerous cases of police torture -- never prosecuted -- and its extra-judicial execution of hundreds of suspected Islamists every year was forgotten.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick