Moscow bans 18 US officials in response to Magnitsky blacklist


Former Department of Justice official John Yoo, seen here during an interrogation policy hearing on June 26, 2008 in Washington, DC, was banned by Moscow on Saturday from entering the country.


Melissa Golden

Moscow banned 18 US officials from Russia on Saturday, a day after Washington published its blacklist of Russian officials. 

Four US officials are "implicated in human rights violations" for alleged Guantanamo prison abuses, and fourteen more for allegedly violating the rights of Russian citizens abroad, the Russian Foreign Ministry said

The list includes the Bush administration's David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, and John Yoo, a former US Justice Department official who authored the "torture memos" on enhanced interrogation.

On Friday, Washington released the "Magnitsky list," a record of 16 Russian officials who Congress had slapped in 2012 with banking and visa sanctions for alleged human rights abuses in connection with the "persecution and ultimate death" of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer charged with tax evasion in 2008, died in prison in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of corruption in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme.

More from GlobalPost: Factbox - Who's who on the U.S. Magnitsky list

“This war of lists was not our decision, but we do not have the right to ignore such open blackmail,” said Alexander Lukashevich, a foreign ministry spokesman. “It is time for the politicians in Washington to finally realize that it is fruitless to base a relationship with a country such as Russia in the spirit of mentorship and overt dictation.”

As the Washington Post points out, Moscow's list goes high up the US political pecking order. The Magnitsky list registers mid-level court, tax and police officials, while Russia's list boasts some of the Bush administration’s most senior leadership, along with lower officials like Jeb Rakoff, US District judge for the Southern District of New York.

“We should note particularly that, unlike the American list compiled arbitrarily, our list features primarily those took part in legalizing torture and the indefinite detention of prisoners in the Guantanamo special prison camp, and those involved in the abduction and removal to other countries of Russian citizens and in threats to their lives and health,” Lukashevich's statement said. 

This is not the first time in recent memory that the US and Russia have quarreled over the Magnitsky case. After the Magnitsky Act was passed by Congress in December last year, Moscow banned US citizens from adopting Russian children