COPENHAGEN, 27 June 2012 (Русский Français) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared fighting proposed visa ban laws a top foreign policy priority.

Now for the first time parliamentarians from Russia, Europe and the United States are expected to debate at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Annual Session in Monaco 5-9 July whether countries should impose such travel restrictions or freeze the assets of those connected to the death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky or other major human rights abuses.

The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved such legislation introduced by OSCE PA Vice-President Benjamin Cardin, and a U.S. House committee approved the bill earlier this month.

Joao Soares (Portugal), former president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, has introduced the resolution calling on the 56 nations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on persons responsible for Sergei Magnitsky's detention, abuse and death. Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer representing Hermitage Capital Management, a global investment advisory firm, who died in custody after having discovered massive tax fraud committed by Russian government officials.

"This resolution supports democracy in Russia and should not be seen in any way as anti-Russian or some old Cold War initiative. This is about human rights and holding criminals to account when no one else will" said Soares. "The more countries enact these laws, the more effective they become. That's why I call on all parliaments to target sanctions against individuals who violate the human rights of people seeking to expose illegal activity."

The resolution also encourages the Russian Federation to issue a public report on Magnitsky's case and co-operate with international institutions investigating his death.

The resolution supports legislative initiatives moving forward in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the United States, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Poland and resolutions adopted by the European Parliament.

Parliamentarians will vote on the resolution and declaration in Monaco. Resolutions adopted at the Annual Session along with the Monaco Declaration help to shape OSCE and national policy. The Annual Session, including committee debates and votes, are open to the press and public.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is comprised of 320 parliamentarians from 55 countries spanning, Europe, Central Asia and North America. The Assembly provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections, and strengthens international cooperation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues. ||