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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the law “anti-Russian” and said parliaments like the US Congress should mind their national business and not “instruct others.” The deputy speaker of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Svetlana Orlova, told reporters this week that Russians had for too long remained silent before the “double standards” practiced by the US toward their country, but she added that “those times are gone.”
Some children’s advocates in Russia have condemned the proposed law as a sideshow, saying it overlooks a more pressing national problem of child neglect and abuse.
But Russia appears ready to focus on standing up to the US. Even before the Dima Yakovlev legislation comes up for a vote, there are signs of a looming trade war as a result of the Magnitsky Act.
Magnitsky was actually approved as part of an action granting Russia new favorable trade relations with the US – known as “permanent normal trade relations,” or PNTR. The PNTR legislation did away with the Soviet-era Jackson-Vanik legislation, which targeted the USSR for restricting the emigration of Jews and others seeking to leave the communist bloc.
But the Magnitsky Act appears to have reverberated louder than PNTR with Russian officials, who have suddenly slapped restrictions on US imports. Last week Russian health authorities announced restrictions on imports of US pork and beef containing a particular feed additive.
US trade officials traveling to Moscow this week are expected to try to reverse the meat import restrictions – even as they gauge the depth of anti-US sentiment over the Magnitsky measure.