Legislation to give Kremlin powers

MOSCOW – Russia’s lower house of parliament is to consider draft legislation that would give the Kremlin powers to ban or restrict a list of US imports, reacting to new US sanctions on a group of Russian tycoons and officials.

Senior lawmakers in the State Duma, which is dominated by Kremlin loyalists, said they had prepared the list ranging from food and alcohol to medicine and consulting services in response to Washington’s move last week.

It was not immediately clear if the draft legislation — which would allow the government to impose the measures should the need arise — would become law in its current form, or if it had the backing of the Kremlin.

A Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said it was understandable that Russian lawmakers wanted to retaliate against the US measures. He said, though, that the Kremlin had yet to familiarise itself with the draft law.

The Russian parliament is often used to send assertive messages to foreign states, but these do not always translate into concrete measures. Large-scale restrictions on US goods and services would hurt American firms but could also cause significant disruption in Russia, where consumers flock to McDonald’s restaurants, fly on vacation in Boeing jets, and use Apple phones.