Russia Responds to U.S. Blacklist With ‘Guantanamo List’

Dozens of U.S. citizens are now barred from entering Russia under the “Guantanamo list,” a retaliatory measure for U.S. sanctions on Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of an anti-corruption lawyer, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“We made a decision to get the usual list wider, and called it ‘The Guantanamo list’ for convenience,” Ryabkov said today by phone. “It’s a label. Like Johnnie Walker.”

The U.S. Congress last month imposed a visa ban and asset freeze on Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other human-rights abuses. Lawmakers in Moscow responded by banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children in a bill that Putin signed into law on Dec. 28.

Magnitsky, an attorney for London-based Hermitage Capital, alleged that Russian officials had committed a $230 million tax fraud. He was arrested in November 2008 and denied medical care during 11 months in pre-trial detention on fabricated tax-evasion charges, according to a Russian presidential human-rights body. He died at age 37 on Nov. 16, 2009.

Some 71 U.S. nationals are now barred from entering Russia, an increase from 11 previously, Sergei Pushkov, a senior lawmaker, said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published today.

A former head of the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was denied entry, Ryabkov said, without elaborating. U.S citizen accused of kidnapping Russian nationals and committing crimes against Russian children are on the blacklist, as well as Guantanamo managers, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month criticized “medieval” conditions at Guantanamo Bay as he backed retaliation against the U.S. Magnitsky Act. “At Guantanamo, they keep people in prison for years without any charges,” he told hundreds of journalists at a news conference in Moscow. “People there go around in shackles, like in medieval times.”

The dispute has further soured relations between the two countries. Putin, who’s faced unprecedented protests over the past year, has criticized U.S. efforts to promote democracy in his country and oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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