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VILNIUS – Lithuania’s parliament adopted on Thursday a law allowing it to impose sanctions on Russian officials it considers guilty of human rights violations and money laundering, a move that swiftly drew Moscow’s ire.
The Baltic EU state became the fifth Western nation to adopt the Magnitsky Act — named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2009 after uncovering an alleged government corruption scheme — after the United States, Canada, Britain and Estonia.
The law, which was proposed by opposition lawmakers and is backed by the government, will come into force once it is signed by the president.
“I welcome the final decision to approve the so-called Magnitsky list. Lithuania has demonstrated a firm and consistent position,” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said.
The country’s diplomats have already started consultations with partners over the list of officials to be barred from entering the country for five years, his spokeswoman told AFP.
Opposition leader Gabrielius Landsbergis, who proposed the bill, submitted a list of 44 Russian citizens, including Russia’s top investigator Alexander Bastrykin and lawmaker Andrei Lugovoy.
Russia’s ambassador to Vilnius, Alexander Udaltsov, said Moscow would retaliate over the new law.
“We will have to respond to yet another unfriendly step by Lithuania and bar entry to Russia to a number of unwelcome individuals from this country,” he said, according to Interfax.
The Lithuanian bill was symbolically passed unanimously eight years to the day after the 37-year-old Magnitsky died in a Russian jail.
His supporters say he was unjustly imprisoned and intentionally left to die by officials who refused to provide appropriate medical care. — AFP