Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. REUTERS/Ekaterina Shtukina/RIA Novosti/Pool

Moscow - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday defended Russia's decision to pass tit-for-tat legislation, including an adoption ban, after the United States passed a law targeting Russian rights abusers.

“In this case, these are normal actions, unfortunately, by a government that has been placed in such a situation,” Medvedev said in an interview with state television to be broadcast Saturday evening, cited by the Interfax news agency.

Medvedev slammed the new US legislation, including travel bans and the right to freeze bank accounts of Russian rights abusers.

“In my view it is an absolutely unlawful law, if you talk about its accordance with international conventions and the doctrine of international sovereignty,” said Medvedev, a lawyer by training.

“We will get through this somehow, but I think that for our American partners all the same it is not the best situation,” Medevedev said, without specifically referring to the adoption ban.

The United States passed the legislation in protest at the murky case of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Moscow prison aged 37 as he awaited trial for fraud.

Tit-for-tat legislation signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in late December brought in a ban on US adoptions of Russian orphans as well as powers to freeze assets of rights abusers and ban their entry.

Medvedev was speaking after returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he said the business elite was uninterested in the controversy surrounding the Magnitsky case.

“There was no business discussion (of this). It doesn't interest anyone except a few citizens who are earning political capital from it,” he said. - Sapa-AFP