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U.S. Lawmakers Return to Discussion of Russian Human Rights Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives tomorrow will resume consideration of a bill targeting Russian officials who violate human rights as a condition for easing trade restrictions with the country.

The House Committee on Rules said it will hold a hearing to discuss the law, which was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee in June and whose legislative passage was suspended before U.S. presidential and Congressional elections this month, according to a statement published on its website.

Russia has warned of unspecified retaliation if the so-called Magnitsky bill becomes law. The administration of President Barack Obama is seeking to repeal trade restrictions with Russia to prevent U.S. companies from forfeiting tariff reductions following Russian entry into the World Trade Organization this year.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have made a repeal of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment that imposed trade restrictions on the Soviet Union for blocking Jewish emigration conditional on imposing sanctions on Russian officials for human-rights violations.

The legislation would establish U.S. travel and financial curbs on any official suspected of violating human rights in Russia, including people suspected of involvement in the 2009 death in jail of Sergei Magnitsky, who worked for the law firm Firestone Duncan.

Russia barred 11 serving and former U.S. administration officials for human rights abuses at facilities including Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in retaliation for the American move against an identical number of Russian officials last year over the Magnitsky case. The Kremlin has said that any additional U.S. visa bans would meet with a symmetrical response.

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