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House votes to sanction some Russians

Nov. 16, 2012 at 3:46 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- A bill requiring the U.S. government to sanction Russian officials involved in the death of a whistleblower passed the House with bipartisan support Friday.

The Magnitsky Act, named in honor of Serge Magnitsky, a lawyer killed three years ago after uncovering a tax refund scam, was linked to a bill repealing Cold War legislation tying trade with Russia to freedom to emigrate for religious minorities, The Washington Post reported.

The trade bill, with the Magnitsky legislation attached, passed 365-43.

The trade bill allows President Obama to grant Russia normal trade relations. The bill must still be approved by the Senate.

Russian officials reacted angrily to the Magnitsky bill, accusing the United States of interfering in its domestic affairs.

"Owing to certain sentiments that prevail in the U.S., including on Capitol Hill, our relations with the U.S. seriously lack what we call three basic principles -- mutual respect, equal rights and non-interference in internal affairs," the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

Ryabkov said Russia's response would be "tough but not necessarily symmetrical."

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