Moscow will retaliate over the Canadian government’s support of legislation that would impose sanctions on officials from Russia and other nations deemed guilty of human rights violations, a Russian official said on Thursday. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday the government backed a draft bill allowing for the seizure of assets and property of foreign officials responsible or complicit in extrajudicial killings, torture and other crimes against whistleblowers or human rights activists.
The bill, which was proposed by an opposition legislator and is almost certain to become law, is inspired by the case of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in 2009 after a year in a Russian jail. “We deplore this unfriendly move by the Canadian government which will surely damage our bilateral relations and will not be left unanswered,” said Vasily Kultyshev, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy.
In an email, he lamented what he called “another repetition of failed confrontational policies towards Russia”. Canada already has cool ties with Russia, which Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have repeatedly condemned over its 2014 annexation of Crimea. In 2012, the United States adopted a law freezing any U.S. assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors said to have been involved in the detention of Magnitsky. In retaliation, Moscow barred Americans from adopting Russian children.