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U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Expand Magnitsky Law Beyond Russia

The United States Capitol building in Washington DC. Scrumshus

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would expand the Magnitsky Act to punish human rights abusers anywhere in the world, not just in Russia, while another lawmaker said he was disappointed that the sanctions did not apply to more people.

Senators Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, and John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, introduced their "Global Human Rights Accountability Act" on Thursday, proposing to expand the Magnitsky Act to all countries. The bill would block human rights abusers from entering the U.S. or using American financial institutions, Reuters reported.

The original bill, passed in 2012, was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blowing lawyer who died in a Moscow jail in 2009. The law authorized a blacklist containing the names of those implicated in Magnitsky's death and other human rights violations in Russia. Those named on the list have been barred from receiving U.S. visas and their assets in the U.S. have been frozen.

U.S. Representative James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts who was among the original bill's supporters, called its implementation "disappointing" and said that he wanted to meet with the White House administration to discuss why it had not expanded the blacklist, which contains the names of 18 people, Radio Liberty reported on Thursday.

McGovern said he "expected more" from the mandatory report on the law that the administration issued last month. The report has not been made public.

Republican Senator Bob Corker expressed concern in December that the White House would balk at expanding the blacklist to avoid undermining cooperation with the Kremlin on areas of mutual interests.

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