Clinton made the statement before sitting down for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss the Syrian crisis — another key point of tension between Moscow and Washington.
Washington accuses Moscow of propping up Bashar Assad’s regime despite its bloody crackdown on an uprising that began in March 2011. Russia and China have used their veto power at the U.N. Security Council three times to block sanctions against Assad’s government, and Moscow has continued to provide Assad with weapons despite strong U.S. protests.
At a meeting in Dublin that also involved the U.N. peace envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, Clinton and Lavrov agreed to support a new mediation effort Brahimi would lead.
Despite Russian leaders’ angry rhetoric, the Kremlin is unlikely to take any strong anti-U.S. action for fear of causing an even bigger strain in relations, Sergei Alexashenko, an economist who was a deputy chief of Russia’s Central Bank, told Ekho Moskvy radio late Thursday.
Many observers say Moscow’s worst fear is that European Union nations will follow the U.S. and pass similar laws. British authorities already have reportedly compiled a list of 60 Russian officials barred from entry over their alleged involvement in Magnitsky’s death.
Alexei Navalny, Russia’s leading anti-corruption whistleblower and opposition leader, wrote in his blog that officials’ anger against the U.S. legislation stems from fear of losing their assets.
‘‘Don’t confuse the interests of Russia and Russian officials’ fear for their corruption savings in foreign banks,’’ he said. ‘‘The Magnitsky act is absolutely pro-Russian. It is aimed at scoundrels who stole 5.4 billion rubles, laundered it abroad, then tortured and killed a Russian citizen.’’