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Russia bans visas for some U.S. officials

Jan. 19, 2013 at 3:50 PM

MOSCOW, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Russian officials have confirmed the existence of a list of Americans blacklisted from receiving Russian visas, called the "Guantanamo List."

The list includes the names of 60 people accused of violating human rights of Russian citizens in the United States or in zones under American jurisdiction, such as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, RIA Novosti reported.

"In our relations with the United States, we have so-called blacklists. The makeup of these lists, as well as the criteria on which they are based, is not a matter of general discussion," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday. "As for the 'Guantanamo List,' some information that is now publicly available is not far from the truth. The contents of these lists may change with time."

The list is in retaliation for U.S. congressional passage of the Magnitsky Act, which imposed visa restrictions and froze U.S. bank accounts of Russian officials involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky -- a Russian lawyer who blew the whistle on a multimillion-dollar tax fraud scheme and died in prison in 2009 while awaiting trial, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The "Guantanamo List" came after Russia banned American couples from adopting Russian children -- another measure taken in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act.

Lilia Shevtsova, senior researcher with Moscow Carnegie Center, said Russia has admitted some Russian inmates held at Guantanamo were involved in terrorism and suggested Moscow is going a bit far in its retaliation against the United States.

"If they go like this they will soon impose visa restrictions on U.S. officials involved in the liquidation of Osama bin Laden," Shevtsova said.

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