Relations between Russia and the United States appear not to have been as strained since the Cold War era due to allegations of hypocrisy in dealing with human rights issues between each nation. On March 1, 2013 Peter Lekarev has reported for The Voice of Russia, Russia-US may be on the brink of a visa war. Chris Smith, a Republican congressman from New Jersey, has said he has been denied a Russian visa as a result of his vocal backing of the US Magnitsky Act, which allows Washington to punish Russians who are implicated in human rights violations with a visa ban and asset freezes.
Ivan Nechepurenko has reported on this story for The Moscow Times, U.S. Lawmaker Says Russia Denied Him Visa. Congressman Chris Smith, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1981, has said it was the first time his visa application to Russia
had been denied over many years of coming to the country. Smith said in an interview
with Foreign Policy magazine "This is the first time I've been denied. I was shocked. During the worst days of the Soviet Union I went there repeatedly."
This visa denial serves the most recent sign of a cooling in U.S.-Russian relations in the aftermath of the U.S. Congress’ passage in November of the Magnitsky Act. This act was fiercely opposed by Russian authorities, who have called it a form of meddling in Russia's domestic affairs. Russian lawmakers have responded to this act by passing the so-called Dima Yakovlev law, which includes a reciprocal visa ban and asset freezes for alleged U.S. human rights violators along with a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans.