UK ‘should tell Vladimir Putin he is not welcome at Olympics’

The Guardian

MPs call for Russian prime minister to be told he is not wanted at London games unless Russia improves human rights record.

Britain should tell Vladimir Putin that he is not welcome at the London Olympics unless Russia makes meaningful efforts to improve its human rights record, MPs will say.

In a move likely to infuriate the Kremlin, Labour’s former Europe minister Denis MacShane will make a parliamentary call for the government to make it clear that Putin is not wanted at the games.

Dozens of heads of state are expected to attend the opening ceremony on 27 July. The Queen will preside over the ceremony, with each national team – including Russia – taking part in a parade.

Putin, currently the prime minister, is certain to win Russia’s presidential election in March despite public discontent and huge protests against election fraud last month. He will be back in the Kremlin and on the international stage from May.

The Olympics are of special significance for Russia. It will host the winter games, the next Olympic event, in Sochi in 2014. Putin, who is closely associated with the Black Sea resort, also masterminded Moscow’s successful bid for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Russia’s Olympic committee has already rented out the grounds of Kensington Palace from the Queen during the 2012 Games. The site will be converted into a Russian cultural festival and there will also be a separate entrance for top government officials and VIPs.

But in a Commons debate on Wednesday, MacShane will argue that the coalition needs to send a “strong signal” to Moscow over its repeated failure to enforce the rule of law.

Putin has also personally blocked any “proper investigation” into the 2006 polonium murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a British citizen, MacShane will say.

“In 1980, Mrs Thatcher had the guts to say no to a formal British endorsement of the Moscow Olympics [following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan],” he said. “I think Mr Cameron, if he wants to emulate the Iron Lady, should say no to Mr Putin.

“Putin will use the London Olympics and the winter Olympics in two years time as self-promotion events.”

Parliament will also hear calls for the UK to issue visa bans on corrupt Russian officials involved in the murder of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison two years ago.

He had accused Russia’s interior ministry of stealing £200m in taxes that Hermitage Capital, an asset management company, had paid the Russian government the previous year.

The US and several European countries have banned the 60 senior Russian officials involved in the alleged scam, but the UK government has refused to do so, apparently afraid that the move would inflame political tensions with Moscow and have a negative effect on British companies doing business in Russia.

It is unclear whether Putin will attend the London games. He makes little secret of his contempt for Britain, which harbours several prominent Russian political exiles including the oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The UK’s judicial refusal to extradite Berezovsky remains a source of Anglo-Russian discord.

MacShane said his move was solely directed at Putin and not at Russia’s Olympic sportsmen and women, who would be warmly welcomed.

“There is no anti-Russian feeling in London,” he insisted. Instead, he saidm his target was Russian bureaucrats who enjoyed visiting the UK but denied Russian citizens basic rights at home.

The Home Office has refused to say whether a visa ban for those on the “Magnitsky list” is in place, despite questions from the former Europe minister Chris Bryant, who also supports the move against Putin.

David Cameron and William Hague were willing to “loudly criticize Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad” but were “mute” when it came to Russia or China, MacShane said, adding: “The time has come to stand up for British values rather than to perch on our knees to Mr Putin in the hope that Russia will co-operate on Syria or Iran.

“There is a dreadful double standard here. Some human rights violations are more equal than others. When Cameron and Hague went to Russia last year, they didn’t publicly raise the Magnitsky case. It was shameful.” быстрые займы онлайн hairy girl https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php zp-pdl.com срочный займ

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