Almost from the day he arrived in Moscow as US Ambassador in 2012, Michael McFaul and his family were subjected to a surveillance and harassment campaign.
According to McFaul's book, "From Cold War to Hot Peace," Russian authorities followed him to his son's football game and McDonalds. They took his children's bus to school and sat behind the family in the church. They cut the tires of the car of a messenger employee and broke into the apartments of other employees.
The embassy security officials advised McFaul that there was only one secure room in the embassy he and his wife should use if they ever argued. Everywhere else was monitored by the Russian government.
Now McFaul is on a list of 1
A common denominator among people on the one list is that many in some way with the Magnitsky Act, a US law of 2012, which imposed harsh sanctions against Russia for human rights violations or a strict critic of human rights violations in Russia President Vladimir Putin was involved.
The State The Department has called the demand for the Americans "absolutely absurd", and the White House said Thursday that Trump "did not agree with the idea" after initially declining to exclude it. It is unclear under what authority the US government might force individuals to join the Russian authorities, as there is no extradition treaty.
But the appeal was raised to an unknown extent when Putin met President Trump in Finland. This week has provoked outrage among current and former diplomats.
"It's amazing why the White House did not close it immediately," said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary for political affairs. "The president should have said at the press conference that he did not agree."
The Magnitsky Act has imposed sanctions on many officials of the Putin clique, and the Russian government has stopped adopting Russian children it has been signed into law.
For years, the Russian government has criticized and harassed Bill Browder, a wealthy US-born financier living overseas. In 2009, his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in prison after alleging a massive fraud involving leading Russian officials. Browder campaigned for the Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on many Putin-related officials.
The Russian government accused Browder of being a criminal and repeatedly put his name on an Interpol wanted list, calling on countries to arrest him as he passed their border control
McFaul and others on the list expressed concern, that Russia will also put its name on the Interpol wanted list. But they remain defiant.
"I am very proud to have played a supportive role in advocating for Magnitsky legislation with Bill Browder, and would do so again, especially given the appalling human rights situation in Putin's Russia," said David Kramer, referring to himself President of Freedom House used for the passage of the law. Kramer, former Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, is one of the Americans listed on a list compiled by Russian state media.
Through Skype contact with the Atlantic Council, Browder said he was "appalled" by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that the president was considering the Russian request.
"Most people on the list of Americans are people … who are trying to protect the United States from Russian official abuse," he said. He added that "Trump is practically considering transferring them to a hostile state." ,
The Russians also want to question Jonathan Winer, former Advisor to Foreign Minister John F. Kerry, who helped develop the Magnitsky sanctions. Kramer and Winer also played a role in the drama surrounding the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy. The dossier alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and contacts between Russian agents and the Trump campaign.
Kramer traveled to London at the end of 2016, met Steele, received a copy of the dossier and provided it to his former boss, Senator. John McCain (R-Ariz), who later personally handed him over to then-FBI director James B. Comey
In the fall of 2016, Winer prepared a two-page summary of information that Steele had put together about Russian interference in the US election and communicated it with Kerry.
Winer said in an interview with The Washington Post that the White House's review of the Kremlin petition may undermine fundamental elements of the American system.
"The question arises as to whether Trump is ready to break our rule of law system," he said, adding, "It's a challenge to the basic way our system works, and I have no reason believing that this country will tolerate it. "
The improbability that the US government would grant the Russians access to the Americans does not make clear what Putin wanted to achieve by addressing the problem with Trump.
seems like a ploy, "said Matt Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center," knowing that the Americans will find these proposals absurd, but they will make a big publisher stir up, the Russians are trying to Equality between them and the Müller investigation. "
" It goes back to Putin's comment in the Helsinki press conference that you should not actually trust anyone. He knows the Americans do not trust him and his cronies, but he also wants to undermine trust in Mueller and law enforcement in the US, "Rojansky said.