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Russia threatens to respond tit-for-tat to US bill

MOSCOW — Moscow has strongly criticized US legislation that calls for sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights abuses and warned that it will respond in kind. A leading anticorruption crusader, however, hailed the bill as ‘‘pro-Russian.’’

The legislation is primarily intended to end Cold War-era trade restrictions and was hailed by US businesses worried about falling behind in the race to win shares of Russia’s more open market, but its human rights component has outraged President Vladimir Putin’s government.

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The measure, dubbed the Magnitsky act, is named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested by officials he accused of a $230 million tax fraud. He was repeatedly denied medical treatment and in 2009 died after almost a year in jail after being severely beaten by guards. Russian rights groups accused the Kremlin of failing to prosecute those responsible, while independent media said such tax frauds are widespread.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded to the US Senate vote late Thursday by calling it a ‘‘show in the theater of the absurd.’’ It warned that Russia will respond to the new legislation in kind, adding that the United States will have to take the blame for the worsening of US-Russian ties.

‘‘Probably people in Washington forgot what year it is and are thinking that the Cold War isn’t over yet,’’ the ministry said in a statement, adding that ‘‘it’s weird and strange to hear human rights-related complaints against us from the politicians of a country where torture and abductions of people all over the world were legitimized in the 21st century.’’

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