Russia promises payback if Canada adopts “deplorable” sanctions bill

Russia promises payback if Canada adopts “deplorable” sanctions bill

The Russian embassy in Ottawa has delivered a bombastic warning to the Canadian government, instructing Parliament to drop plans for new sanctions legislation.

“The latest decision by the Parliament of Canada guised as a pro-human rights and anti-corruption measure is a deplorably confrontational act blatantly interfering into Russia’s domestic affairs,” reads a statement from Moscow’s embassy in Ottawa.

The stern language comes as the House of Commons prepares to pass the Magnitsky Act, or S-226, a bill that would give the Canadian government new powers to sanction foreign officials responsible for corruption, extra-judicial killings, and torture. Ottawa could freeze and seize the assets of those officials, if the bill becomes law.

“Unfortunately, we are witnessing the continuation of failed policies, pressed by Russophobic elements”

If Ottawa pushes forward with the legislation, which is awaiting final votes in both houses of Parliament, Moscow is warning of payback.

“Unfortunately, we are witnessing the continuation of failed policies, pressed by Russophobic elements,” the statement reads. “The hostile move, as well as any new anti-Russian sanctions, will be met with resolve and reciprocal countermeasure.”

The legislation was drawn up in memory of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was responsible for uncovering massive corruption and fraud being carried out by various Russian officials. Rather than being celebrated by the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he was arrested and detained without trial and accused by the state of being part of the very corruption he had uncovered.

Magnitsky died in prison from a heart attack stemming from untreated pancreatitis in 2009, but human rights groups say he was severely beaten in prison. He died just days before he would have been required to be brought to trial, or released.

Moscow has called the human rights allegations “contrived.”

Once passed into law, it will likely be used to go after the officials involved in the Magnitsky affair, but would extend beyond Russia — a Canadian government official confirmed that Ottawa is already taking aim at other foreign officials, include some in the administration of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The lawyer is just one of a string of critics of the Putin administration who have wound up dead in recent years — some were poisoned, some were shot, one fell out of fourth-floor window.

Moscow has called the human rights allegations “contrived.”

Legislation inspired by Magnitsky has cropped up throughout the Western world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, and the European Parliament.

“Such unfriendly acts should not remain without response and unnoticed.”

It is the Magnitsky Act that spurred Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to Putin’s government, to meet with associates of President Donald Trump’s campaign team in June of 2016, in the midst of the presidential election. Veselnitskaya sat down with Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son; Paul Manafort, his campaign chair, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

An intermediary told Trump associates that Veselnitskaya could supply damaging information on Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported earlier this year. The Russian lawyer, for her part, used the meeting to discuss “the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government,” according to Trump Jr.

That adoption program was ended by Moscow in response to Congress’ adoption of the Magnitsky Act.

“Such unfriendly acts should not remain without response and unnoticed,” Andrei Klimov, a deputy in Russia’s upper house who sits on a commission on “state sovereignty protection,” told Sputnik News, a state-run Russian broadcaster known for pushing an aggressively pro-Kremlin line.