KyivPost

Russia says will retaliate if Britain has blacklisted officials

Print version
Sept. 3, 2012, 7:46 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

A file picture taken 14 September 2004 shows Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence agent, and now a political refugee in Britain, giving a press conference in London. The former Russian spy and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was fighting for his life in a London hospital 19 November 2006 after an apparent bid to kill him by poisoning. Litvinenko fell ill after an 01 November 2006 meeting in a London sushi bar with a contact who purportedly had information on the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
© AFP

Reuters

MOSCOW - Russia said on Monday it would retaliate if Britain confirmed a media report that it could ban dozens of Russian officials from entering the country for their alleged roles in the 2009 prison death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had asked Britain whether it had blacklisted 60 people including judges, intelligence officers and prosecutors, as a newspaper reported. The ministry did not say what a Russian diplomatic response could entail.

Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer for an equity fund, died about a year after he was jailed on charges of tax evasion and fraud.

Former colleagues say the charges were fabricated by police investigators he had accused of stealing $230 million from the Russian state through fraudulent tax returns.

The Kremlin's own human rights council has said Magnitsky was probably beaten to death.

Britain's Sunday Times reported that Home Secretary Theresa May had sent a list of 60 Russians to the British embassy in Moscow and that they could be banned from entering Britain.

"We have ... asked the official British authorities for confirmation or denial of this information," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.

"We will determine our reaction depending on the answer," he said. "Obviously, if London has introduced some sanctions against Russian citizens, the Russian side will react, as is accepted in diplomatic practice."

A diplomatic dispute over the Magnitsky case would further strain relations between Britain and Russia. The countries have been at odds over security, diplomatic and human rights issues for years, particularly since the 2006 murder in London of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who died from poisoning with radioactive polonium-210.

In December 2010, Britain expelled a diplomat from the Russian embassy in London. It said this was in response to "clear evidence" of activities by the Russian intelligence services against British interests.

Russia responded days later by expelling a diplomat from the British embassy in Moscow.

The Magnitsky case has also strained ties between Russia and the United States. A U.S. Senate panel in June approved a bill, sharply criticised by Moscow, that would require the United States to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians linked to Magnitsky's death, along with other human rights abusers in Russia or anywhere in the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Magnitsky's death a tragedy, but said Moscow would retaliate against the bill.

The British embassy could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. Britain's policy is not to comment on individual cases involving visa applications or denials.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted a British embassy representative as saying visa applicants are usually denied entry if they are found to have violated human rights.

The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.

KyivPost

© 1995–2014 Public Media

Web links to Kyiv Post material are allowed provided that they contain a URL hyperlink to the www.kyivpost.com material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. Otherwise, all materials contained on this site are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of Public Media at news@kyivpost.com
All information of the Interfax-Ukraine news agency placed on this web site is designed for internal use only. Its reproduction or distribution in any form is prohibited without a written permission of Interfax-Ukraine.