Russia raps Canada's Magnitsky bill, ready to retaliate

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said it will retaliate tit-for-tat over a new Canadian law that will impose sanctions on officials from Russia and other nations considered guilty of human rights violations.

Spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova gestures as she attends a news briefing in Moscow, Russia, October 6, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The bill, expected to be approved by Canada’s parliament later on Wednesday, was inspired by the case of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in 2009 after a year in a Russian jail.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying on Wednesday that “any anti-Russian actions by the Canadian authorities will not be left without an adequate response.”

Canada already has cool ties with Russia. It has repeatedly condemned Moscow over Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and has imposed sanctions against Russia along with other Western nations.

“We warn again that in case the pressure of the sanctions put on us increases ... we will widen likewise the list of Canadian officials banned from entering Russia,” Zakharova said, according to Interfax.

“To a large extent, it (the bill) simply copies the odious American ‘Magnitsky Act’ and is set to further undermine Russian-Canadian relations.”

The United States adopted a law in 2012 freezing any U.S. assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors said to have been involved in the detention of Magnitsky. In retaliation, Moscow barred Americans from adopting Russian children.

The Canadian parliament’s lower house approved adoption of the “Law on Victims of Corrupt Foreign Governments” on Monday and submitted the bill to the Senate for approval.

The law, which was proposed by an opposition legislator and is backed by the government, will come into force once it is signed by Canada’s governor-general.

The Russian embassy in Canada, in a statement posted on its Twitter page, blamed the Magnitsky bill on “failed policies, pressed by Russophobic elements”.

Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Susan Fenton