UPDATE 1-US Senate approves Russia trade, rights bill
* Lifts Cold War-era trade restrictions on Russia
* House approved bill in November, Obama expected to sign it
* Names of Russian human rights violators to be publicized
WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday a pproved l egislation to punish Russian human rights violators as part of a broader bill to expand U.S. trade with the former Cold War enemy.
The 92-4 vote sends the package to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law, despite Moscow's warning that the human rights provisions will damage relations.
"The Senate's historic bipartisan vote today moves us closer to having our trade with Russia covered by the rules of the World Trade Organization," the Obama administration's trade representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.
Last month, the House of Representatives approved the bill, which grants "permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR) to Russia by lifting a Cold War-era restriction on trade.
The bill also grants permanent normal trade relations with Moldova.
Business groups have been pushing Congress for months to approve the bill, which would ensure that U.S. companies get all the benefits of Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization. Russia joined the WTO on Aug. 22.
Without it, the groups fear they will be left at a disadvantage compared to companies around the world that already have full WTO relations with Russia.
The United States cannot use the WTO dispute-settlement system to challenge any Russian actions that unfairly restrict U.S. imports until PNTR is approved.
But many U.S. lawmakers refused to take the step, which requires lifting a 1974 human rights measure known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, without new human rights legislation.
Jackson-Vanik tied the most favorable U.S. tariff rates to the rights of Jews in the former Soviet Union to emigrate freely. While it is broadly considered a success, it is a relic of the Cold War and at odds with WTO rules.
DEATH OF ANTI-CORRUPTION LAWYER
In a provision that infuriates Moscow, the bill directs Obama to publish the names of Russians allegedly involved in the abuse and death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in a Russian jail in 2009.
It also would require the United States to deny visas and freeze the assets of any individual on the list, as well as other human rights violators in Russia on an ongoing basis.
Moscow has warned that the human rights provision would hurt relations and has promised to retaliate if it becomes law.
"The allegations that this legislation infringes on Russian sovereignty is nonsense ... It cannot force human rights abusers in Russia to stop what they're doing," Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said.
"But if they continue, what this legislation does is to tell those individuals that they cannot bank their money in the United States, they are not welcome in this country and they cannot visit this country and they will have no access to the U.S. financial system," McCain said.
Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who helped craft the Magnitsky provision, said he would continue pushing to make it universal in scope so it could be used to punish other human rights violators around the world.
The PNTR bill also contains measures that pressure the White House to make sure that Russia abides by WTO rules.
"If there are areas where Russia is not in compliance with its obligations, the administration is required to develop an action plan to address them," said Senator Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.