WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would support legislation to upgrade US trade relations with Russia only if Congress also passes a measure to go after Russian human right violators, his campaign said on Thursday.

"Gov. Romney believes that permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) should only be granted to Russia on the condition that the Magnitsky human rights bill be passed," Lanhee Chen, policy director for the Romney campaign, said in a statement.

Chen was referring to legislation being considered in Congress that would require the US government to impose sanctions on people believed responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in a Russian prison, and other human rights violators.

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