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EU visa ban on Russian officials eyed

HELSINKI, Finland, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A proposed European Union visa ban on Russian officials implicated in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky is being considered by Germany, an official said.

"We're discussing it. It is an option that my office is bringing to the table, into the debate," Markus Loning, the German foreign ministry's commissioner for human rights, told EUobserver.

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"I can't say I have completely convinced the rest of the government, but it is something I am putting on the table again and again," said Loning, who was in Helsinki Thursday attending a conference on Russia.

Magnitsky died under suspicious circumstances in police custody Nov. 16, 2009, after nearly a year in prison. He had exposed a tax fraud involving senior Russian officials.

A Russian official last month criticized the United States for issuing in August the "Magnitsky blacklist" -- a list of about 60 Russian officials barred from traveling to the United States because of their alleged involvement in the arrest, imprisonment and death of Magnitsky.

"From the outside, it's very hard to really know the chain of command (in Russia)," Loning said. "But I think there's a lot to be said for the argument: Let's list the guys we know are doing it, the judge, the prosecutor. Let's list them and let's make sure other judges see the risk they are taking, see that they should be more independent than they are."

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