Russia extends blacklist of American citizens

No longer limited to US citizens suspected of human rights abuses at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the updated list of Americans prohibited from entering Russia now includes new categories of individuals.

­In December, the number of US citizens declared persona non grata in Russia stood at 11; now this number has been increased by 49 more people as new categories of individuals are added to the list, Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Friday.

The new names, which contain both government officials and ordinary Americans, can be divided into three categories, Pushkov said.

The first category is comprised of “judges, investigators, secret service agents and Justice Department members” who are believed to be connected with the criminal prosecution and sentencing of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, Russian nationals who were arrested by US officials, tried on American soil, and are now serving their prison sentences in the US.

Bout, a former Soviet officer who became the owner of an air transport company, was arrested in 2008 by US agents in Thailand. In November 2011, he was convicted by a jury in a New York federal court of intending to provide military weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), which the United States ranks as a terrorist organization, and conspiracy to kill US citizens. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Bout has pleaded his innocent to all charges.

Yaroshenko was arrested in May 2010 in an undercover operation in Liberia. He was taken to the United States and sentenced to 20 years in prison for alleged drug trafficking.

 The second category of individuals prohibited from entering the Russian Federation include US Senators who were responsible for initiating the so-called Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama in December.

The new US legislation attempts to punish Russian nationals who Washington believes are responsible for the death of Sergey Magnitsky, who died in a detention facility in Moscow in 2009 awaiting a tax evasion investigation. 

The final category of persona non grata individuals include American adoptive parents who were found guilty of abusing their adopted Russian children or guilty of their deaths. 

On December 28, 2012, President Putin signed the Dima Yakovlev bill, named after a Russian orphan who died of heat stroke after being left in a car for an extended period by his American adoptive parents. 

Judges who delivered “inadequate” verdicts on such cases, as well as psychiatrists who claimed that those children allegedly had congenital deficiencies that supposedly caused their deaths are also prohibited from entering Russia.

Robert Bridge, RT