Russia Calls for 'Common Sense' in U.S. Row


Russia said Monday it expected "common sense" to prevail in a burgeoning diplomatic row with Washington that could result in tit-for-tat travel restrictions between the two Cold War rivals.

"I would like to believe that common sense will prevail," Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

"We have never been -- and are not today -- proponents of black lists being drawn up against an individual group of people."

The latest dispute between Moscow and Washington stems from a piece of U.S. human rights legislation that sanctions Russian officials implicated in the death of a lawyer who exposed a massive state embezzlement scheme.

The law would bar officials implicated in the 2009 death of a Russian lawyer from entering the United States and allow the seizure of their assets.

The so-called Magnitsky Act -- named in honor of Hermitage Capital investment fund auditor Sergei Magnitsky -- infuriated Kremlin officials who denied any state involvement in the 2009 case.

Russia responded by drafting a highly contentious bill keeping Americans from adopting the country's children.

The draft measure would affect about 1,000 adoptions a year and eliminate the number one foreign destination for Russian children without homes.

The bill was passed in the third and final reading by the lower house on Friday and is expected to be approved by the upper chamber on Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has strongly indicated that he intends to sign the measure into law.

Moscow's response outraged numerous Russians because it appears to victimise vulnerable children who would have trouble finding new homes.

At least three petitions have since appeared on the White House website urging US President Barack Obama to respond by barring Russian lawmakers who voted for the adoption bill from entering the United States.

Russian reports said another petition is even calling on Obama to add Putin himself to the list.

Several Moscow lawmakers have since said that they would have to respond in kind by keeping congressmen and senators out of Russia.

But Ryabkov called for cooler heads to prevail at the most perilous moment in Russia-US relations since Putin's return in May to a third Kremlin term.

"A no entry list war is a game with very high stakes," Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

"This is something the U.S. hotheads are calling for, and something that is finding support among certain voices in Russia," said Ryabkov.

"But this is not our road to follow," he stressed.

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