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Rights Activists to Draft List of Violators to Help U.S.

Rights activists said Monday that they would draft a list of the country's most flagrant human rights violators to help the United States identify individuals it could systematically deny U.S. visas under a new law.

U.S. President Barack Obama infuriated Moscow on Friday when he signed legislation to "name and shame" Russian rights violators, a move Russian authorities called an insult.

Washington named the new law after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer working for a Western private equity firm who died in a Russian jail in 2009.

Inspired by the Magnitsky Act, veteran rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva on Monday announced the creation of a new group that she said would investigate abuse allegations against  police, prosecutors and other Russian officials, with a view to publishing their names.

Establishment of the group is likely to further anger the Kremlin, which has faced Western criticism over a crackdown on dissent that has included the arrests of opposition demonstrators and the pursuit of criminal cases against protest leaders since Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term in May.

Alexeyeva said she hoped the list would help the U.S. authorities identify people they wanted to punish under the new legislation.

"We can say, 'Look, we have this project. If you consider it noteworthy, add it to the Magnitsky list,'" Alexeyeva said. "Our dream is that later, our violators … will be punished within our own justice system. Until that happens, I personally am grateful to the U.S. Congress."

The new group will be made up of rights activists, a retired Constitutional Court judge and a TV personality, and it will seek volunteer lawyers to help with investigations and donations to fund its work.

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