Russia’s Plan for Banning U.S. Drugs Imports Criticized

Russia’s response to U.S. sanctions should not include a ban on the import of U.S.-manufactured drugs and medicinal supplies, the Chairman of the Russian Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov has said.

According to TASS, Fedotov said he categorically objects to the ban proposed in a draft law on counter-sanctions currently reviewed by the Russian Parliament.

“I am convinced,” said the chairman of the Council, “that neither drugs nor supplies for medical equipment should become objects of foreign trade sanctions.” This understanding was brought to me in September 2016 in the Syrian city of Latakia, in the hospital Tishrin, which we visited together with a member of the HROs Elizaveta Glinka. There we saw new equipment that was idle due to lack of consumables, saw excellent doctors who had nothing to treat sick and injured children.”

He indicated that this opinion is shared by President Vladimir Putin, who spoke in support of this position last year.

Fedotov recalled then that Putin said medicines and medical equipment should never be subject to any trade restrictions.

“I think the President’s words are fully applicable to the situations of sanctions and/or countersanctions in Russian-U.S. trade relations,” he said.

Somewhat earlier, the Russian ombudsperson for human rights, Tatiana Moskalkova came up with an appeal to exclude medicines and healthcare technologies from the lists of commodities and services falling under sanctions.

The bill on “counter-sanctions to unfriendly actions on the part of the U.S. and/or other foreign nations” was submitted to the State Duma (lower house of Parliament) on April 13 by the leaders of all the party caucuses and Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

The authors of the legislative motion drafted it as a response to “the challenges coming from the U.S. and American officials and made manifest in highly unfriendly or destructive actions, which take the form of sanctions against Russia as a country, separate individuals or legal entities,” a letter of comments to the bill said.

The bill allowed the Russian government to enact a range of economic and political measures. Their scope included a ban on imports of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, agricultural produce, manufacturing equipment, and software from the U.S.