Russian ambassador warns Congress that pending human rights bill 'not going to be accepted'

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Despite repeated Russian warnings and against the White House's advice, lawmakers of both parties have decided to attach the so-called Sergei Magnitsky bill to legislation normalizing trade relations with Russia, which Congress needs to approve in order for U.S. companies to benefit from better trade terms after Russia joins the World Trade Organization. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved legislation linking the two bills last week.

The House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, is expected to mark up the trade bill later this week, with the Rules Committee expected to tie it to the Magnitsky bill, giving the House and Senate time to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia before leaving for summer recess at the end of next week. Russia is scheduled to become the 156th member of the WTO on August 22.

In his column, Kislyak said the Magnitsky bill was a symptom of a larger breakdown in relations between Congress and Russia that will have far-reaching consequences. He said some lawmakers were acting like they're looking for “new irritants” in the U.S.-Russian relationship, and said the bill would cast a pall on the promise of increased business relations between the two countries.

“As a result of the Magnitsky proposal, relations between Russia and the United States might be burdened with additional difficulties,” he said. “And it looks like the whole history of adopting PNTR might end on a sad note.”