Russia hits back at US over trade bill

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Russia hits back at US over trade bill

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President Barack Obama has angered Vladmir Putin by signing a bill which establishes normal trade relations with Russia.

The measure ends Cold War restrictions on trade with Russia but also obliges Obama to prevent perceived Russian human rights violaters from entering the United States.

The Magnitsky bill is named after Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who many Americans believe was beaten to death in a Russian jail in 2009.

But the move is adding more pressure to already strained US-Russian relations. President Vladimir Putin called it a purely political and unfriendly act.
Moscow’s lower house, the Duma, also considers the signing of the bill as in insult.

Yelena Afanasyeva, a Liberal Democrat MP, had this rebuke for the US: “Regretfully the American side is once again trying to monopolise the role and functions of the sole international judge when the U.S. authorities without any court procedure can determine whether any people are involved in crimes.”

In what is being seen as a tit-for-tat move, the Duma has given preliminary approval to a measure which would see Americans barred from Russia if they are perceived to have violated the rights of Russians.

Putin is expected to sign the bill before the end of the year.