Russian lawmaker does not rule out Moscow’s legislative response to US sanctions

Croak

MOSCOW, October 12. /TASS/. Moscow may respond to Washington’s anti-Russian sanctions both at the diplomatic and legislative level, Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house) International Affairs Committee, said on Thursday.

"Indeed, I do not rule out that besides all the measures taken at the diplomatic level, Russia may also draw up a respective bill in response to the US law, strengthening sanctions against Russia and absolutely illegal actions against our diplomatic property," Slutsky said answering a TASS question.

According to the lawmaker, "after ordering to cut the number of staff members of the US diplomatic mission in Russia for parity, Russia reserves the right to take other retaliatory measures."

In 2012, in response to the US Magnitsky Act, Washington’s measure to punish Russian officials allegedly responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergey Magnitsky, the Russian parliament passed the Dima Yakovlev Law, the lawmaker said. This law, besides banning US citizens from adopting Russian children, also envisaged visa and financial restrictions for persons who violate Russian citizens’ rights.

"In today’s tougher geopolitical conditions, when the US opted for an unprecedented extension of sanctions against Russia, again enshrining this in law, the introduction of countermeasures by our side also at the legislative level would be rather logical," Slutsky said.

However, the lawmaker said it was early to speak about any particular plans on preparing such an initiative.

In August, US President Donald Trump signed into law a bill toughening US sanctions against Russia. In a response to this move and also the December 2016 expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US, Moscow ordered Washington to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia to 455 in pursuit of parity. Russia has 300 staff at embassies and consulates in the US, while 155 more Russians work at the UN.

In a tit-for-tat move, on August 31, the US authorities demanded that Moscow closed by September 2 its Consulate General in San Francisco, the trade mission in Washington and its office in New York. The US officials conducted an all-out search in the facilities.

On Wednesday, the Russian flags were removed from the buildings of Russia’s trade mission in Washington and the Consulate General in San Francisco. Russia’s Embassy in the United States said earlier it had lodged a protest to the US side demanding the flags be immediately placed back.