And in response to the U.S. visa blacklist (which, according to Heritage Foundation Russia expert Ariel Cohen, was drawn up by State Department officials who dislike the Senate bill), Medvedev has ordered the Foreign Ministry to create a list, too -- of U.S. officials who would be banned from traveling to Russia or banking there.
Not just any U.S. officials are on that list, mind you. It includes prosecutors and law-enforcement officials who are working on two very interesting cases: that of Victor Boot, who is accused of supplying arms to terrorists, and that of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a weapons-and-drug-smuggling pilot captured in Africa. “Russian diplomacy now appears to fly cover for suspected organized criminals,” Cohen writes.
Moscow may chafe at the Magnitsky bill and other criticisms, but there’s virtually no chance that officials there would implement any kind of reform without outside prodding. As Cohen notes, Congress is actually doing Russia a favor. David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House and former assistant secretary of state for human rights under President George W. Bush, says merely introducing the bill has “done more for the cause of human rights [in Russia] than anything done” by the two previous administrations.
The reset button is broken. But pressure still works.
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