A Russian flag flies next to the US embassy building in Moscow on March 27, 2018. (MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP)
MOSCOW - The Russian State Duma, or lower house of parliament, Tuesday passed a bill in the first reading authorizing the government to impose sanctions against the United States and its allies, it said in a statement.
The bill on measures against unfriendly moves of the United States and/or other foreign countries was introduced in response to a series of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and some other countries on Russia.
The government is also authorized to suspend the cooperation of Russian companies with foreign firms working in the nuclear and aviation industries
The latest set of sanctions affecting 38 Russian individuals and entities, including seven business leaders and 17 senior officials, for their alleged "malign activity" around the world, was adopted by Washington in April.
The list of possible countersanctions includes a ban or restrictions on imports of agricultural products, foodstuffs, alcohol, tobacco products, medicines, equipment and software, as well as the entry of US citizens into Russia.
The government is also authorized to suspend the cooperation of Russian companies with foreign firms working in the nuclear and aviation industries, and ban the participation of foreign companies in the privatization of Russian state or municipal property.
Russia may also raise charges for its air navigation services and ban or restrict exports of products made with rare metals, it stated.
To become effective, the bill has to be passed in three readings by the Duma, endorsed by the Federation Council, or the upper house of the Federal Assembly (parliament), and then signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The draft bill will have its second reading on Thursday.