The Russian government announced Saturday that 18 Americans, including former high-level officials of the George W. Bush administration, are banned from entering Russia, after the Obama administration imposed visa bans and asset freezes on the same number of Russians. Each country has claimed human rights violations as the reason for its action.
The 18 Americans include four that the Russian Foreign Ministry said were linked to "the legalization and application of torture." Former Justice Department legal advisor John Choon Yoo and David Addington, the chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney are named in that category, along with two former commanders of the U.S. military detention centers at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Retired Major General Geoffrey D. Miller, a commander at Guantanamo under President Bush, was also an in Iraq as an advisr on interrogations at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Also named was Rear Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson, a Guantanamo commander during President Obama's first term.
"Under pressure from Russophobic members of the U.S. Congress, a powerful blow has been dealt to bilateral relations and mutual trust," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released one day after the Obama administration announced the names of the Russians banned from the United States. "The war of lists is not our choice, but we have no right not to respond to blatant blackmail," the ministry said. "It is high time for politicians in Washington to finally realize that it is futile to build relations with a country like Russia in a spirit of mentoring and outright diktat."
The U.S. list includes 16 people linked to the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian who died in a Moscow jail in 2009.
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