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Russia Already Has Magnitsky's List - Fedotov

MOSCOW. July 26 (Interfax) - It is important for Russia to dot all its "i's" in the case over the death of Hermitage apital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky at the national level, Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, said.

"The idea of fighting crime and corruption in Russia is primarily our concern," Fedotov told Interfax on Tuesday, commenting on the U.S. State Department's decision to impose visa restrictions on Russian officials from the "Magnitsky list."

"For us, it is crucial that all those who are really responsible end up on the 'Magnitsky list' at the Russian, and not U.S., border. We are doing everything we can to make sure that the people from this list are eventually barred not only from traveling to America, but also from leaving the country at all and face trial," Fedotov said.

The Russian Investigative Committee is conducting an active investigation of the Magnitsky case, he said.

"Everyone knows how much work is being done by the Presidential Council for Human Rights so that all those responsible for his death are identified, face trial and are punished. For us, the 'Magnitsky list' already exists - it is reflected in a preliminary report that we handed over to the president in early July," Fedotov said.

U.S. blacklists could prompt retaliation from Russia, he said.

"We understand the noble goals. But one also needs to see possible unpleasant consequences. This step can generate retaliatory visa restrictions on the part of Russia," Fedotov, former Russian Press Minister and ambassador to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), said.

"A Russian scientist, a Nobel laureate in physics, a man quite advanced in his age, was once barred from a UNESCO conference in France. When I started finding out why he was barred, I was told, 'Your authorities banned someone from attending, so we'll ban yours.' I said this was a folly. To which they replied: 'Yes, it is, but such is the principle of reciprocity.'"

"A country establishes visa restrictions against another - it is, of course, its sovereign right, but it is thus provoking the other side to set symmetrical restrictions. This appears to me extremely counter-productive. Russia stated very openly and clearly that it is looking to have all visa restrictions lifted," Fedotov said.

The U.S. Department of State has added a group of Russian officials involved in Magnitsky's death to the blacklist of U.S. visa applicants, the Washington Post newspaper said on Tuesday.


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