“Naturally, we will not leave the arbitrary sanctions against Russia without a response. We will be guided both by the principle of reciprocity and considerations of justice in applying restrictions to those who escaped responsibility for human rights-related crimes and violations of Russians’ rights in the United States,” said Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry Special Representative for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, in his comments on the issue.
The diplomat accused the US of “moralizing and feigning concern over the fate of Sergei Magnitsky [who died in a Moscow prison] while the US-backed Kiev authorities use large-scale military force, including artillery and armor, against civilians in eastern Ukraine”.
Up to now, Washington has failed to condemn the atrocities committed by Ukrainian law enforcers and neo-Nazis organizations such as Right Sector despite dozens of Ukrainian civilians dying at their hands, Dolgov said.
“Up to now, the US authorities have not condemned the inhumane massacres in Odessa and Mariupol. They actually justify and turn a blind eye to the arrests of foreign, especially Russian, journalists in Ukraine and to the fact that those opposing the Kiev regime are beaten and tortured and their relatives intimidated.”
“Here we have despicable double standards, particularly against the backdrop of Washington’s unwillingness to tell the truth about special CIA jails where inhumane torture methods were practiced on a routine basis. So far, no one has been called to account for that. Suffice it to recall US President Obama’s unfulfilled promise to close the special detention center in Guantanamo, in fact a concentration camp, in which inmates, including Russian citizen Mingazov, are kept indefinitely without charge or trial,” Dolgov said.
“Not surprisingly, the US side doesn’t like or want to talk about the appalling situation in US prisons, preferring to moralize and even ‘punish’ other countries, especially those pursuing an independent policy. Meanwhile, the US is leading in the number of jailed convicts: there are 2.3 million inmates in US prisons. In some US states, every 20th inmate is kept in solitary confinement. Many penitentiaries don’t offer even the minimum internationally-accepted detention standards. Prisoner abuse is practiced regularly and on a massive scale (up to 2 million inmates have been abused by prison staff since 2003).”
“Russian citizens caught in the wheels of the American ‘correctional’ system know that, and not from hearsay,” Dolgov said.
The United States imposes sanctions against 12 Russian citizens under the so-called Magnitsky Act, the US Treasury Department press service said on Tuesday. According to the anouncement, these sanctions are imposed against people linked with Magnitsky’s arrest and death, officers of the Butyrskaya prison and the Matrosskaya Tishina detention centre, police officers. The list has no names of Russian top-ranking officials.
Included in the list are: Igor Alisov, Alexandra Gaus, Vyacheslav Khlebnikov, Dmitry Klyuev, Dmitry Krath, Andrew Krechetov, Larisa Litvinova, Viktor Markelov, Vladlen Stepanov, Umar Shugaipov, Fikret Tagiyev and Musa Vahaev. The Magnitsky Act provides for sanctions against Russians involved, according to congressmen, in human rights violations.
The Treasury has yet to provide an explanatory note for the expanded list posted on its website.
The Magnitsky Act, which was signed by US President Barack Obama in December 2012, introduces visa and financial sanctions on individuals deemed by Washington to be complicit in the 2009 death of whistleblowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow jail, as well as other purported human rights abuses.
Russia has in the past responded to such targeted sanctions in a proportional manner.
Previously the country issued its own blacklist of 18 US officials described by Moscow as having been connected with the US’s infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba or as having violated the rights of Russians abroad.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is urging the Kiev authorities to ensure fairness in the coming presidential elections to be held in Ukraine on May 25. “Of course, the presidential elections themselves are a step in the right direction. So it is especially important to ensure they are of a truly nation-wide and free character. A path towards this is via a wide compromise within Ukrainian society regarding the constitutional grounds of the state,” the Russian Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department said in a statement.
The memorandum on mutual understanding and peace passed by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada is understandable, though a belated step towards the implementation of the Geneva agreements, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Of course, this document has become public and is an understandable, although a belated step towards the implementation of the Geneva statement of April 17, 2014 and the roadmap drafted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“The condemnation of use of arms and violence, which has already led to mass deaths of people, and the intention to ensure immediate constitutional reform foreseeing the decentralization of authorities can be assessed positively in general,” the document said.
“We think that the intention to ensure the authorities of regions with financial resources via establishing fair distribution of budget incomes, aspirations to fight corruption at all levels of the state authorities and appeals not to allow inter-confessional and inter-ethnic conflicts in the country deserve support,” the Ministry said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Kiev of stepping up its antiterrorist operation in the eastern part of Ukraine, contrary to its obligations.
“Contrary to the obligation of refraining from any violent actions, intimidation, and provocations, not only has Kiev not canceled a punitive operation against its own people, but it is also consistently stepping it up and regularly shelling cities in the eastern part of the country at night, including with the use of heavy weaponry,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
Russia has expressed its surprise about the fact that the memorandum adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on May 20 does not contain a provision on the non-bloc status of the country and its too vague on the status of the Russian language.
“We know that issues that would guarantee mutual understanding and peace in Ukraine were removed from the draft memorandum drawn up by deputies from the Party of Regions during the debate. Specifically, the text of the memorandum does not contain a provision on the non-bloc status of the country and it too vague on some guarantees given by the Ukrainian parliament to the status of the Russian language. Kiev’s plans on the de-escalation of the conflict, specifically, the dates when the military operation in eastern Ukraine will end, also need clarification,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s information and press department said in its commentary, Interfax reports.
“It is regrettable that representatives of the regions of Ukraine who are trusted by their residents did not take part in the debate on the memorandum. It is also noteworthy that the memorandum did not get a consensus in the parliament either,” the commentary says.