The Kremlin warned Washington on Friday against publishing a list of Russian officials barred from entering the United States because of their alleged abuse of human rights.
Russian media reports said the dozens of names included on the so-called “Magnitsky Act” — named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in prison after revealing a suspected state embezzlement scheme — would be published in the United States later on Friday.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the publication could leave lasting damage on future ties between the two former Cold War foes.
“The appearance of some lists will unquestionably have a very negative impact on Russian-US bilateral relations,” news agencies quoted Peskov as saying.
The list has always been kept secret but is believed to include people involved in Magnitsky’s trial and prosecution as well as officials who have joined the Kremlin’s crackdown on Russians’ political rights.
The Russian officials have had their US accounts frozen and added to a list of people who will be denied entry visas. Some European nations are taking steps to adopt similar measures.
Yet Peskov added that cooperation between the two sides would nonetheless continue on some issues if the list was published.
“Even when under the weight of such possible negative events, and despite the damage these negative events cause, (our relations) still have numerous prospects for further development,” said Peskov.
“There will always be a lot of issues to discuss” between the two sides.
Russia reacted with scathing anger at the US Magnitsky Act and parliament in retaliation agreed legislation barring American families from adopting Russian children.
The Russian foreign ministry has since drawn up its own blacklist of US officials who are alleged to have committed human rights violations.
A former US senior commander at the Guantanamo base in Cuba where the United States keeps terror suspects has already been denied entry by Moscow in a highly publicised case.
Moscow also accuses Washington of inciting Russia’s recent anti-Putin protests and has recently launched a crackdown against non-governmental organisation with foreign funding.