“Not Even Stalin Did That”

Congressman Ed Royce Blog

The House Foreign Affairs Committee met yesterday on the heels of the tainted Russian election that put Vladimir Putin back in power. (He never left.)

A top observer characterized Russia’s leadership as “corrupt, rotten and rotting.” A quarter to a third of the economy is lost to corruption, it’s believed. $84 billion in capital flight last year alone.

Human rights abuses abound. The head of an investment fund told the story of Sergei Magnitsky, his Moscow lawyer. In 2008, Magnitsky uncovered evidence of police corruption and embezzlement. He was dead eleven months later – imprisoned, beaten and denied critical medical treatment. One Committee member called this testimony “one of the most powerful the Committee has ever heard.” Magnitsky’s case has become a cause célèbre in Russia, an example of the systemic corruption and abuse of power that has driven tens of thousands of protesters to Moscow’s streets recently.

This case has spurred a congressional push to pass legislation denying visas and freezing assets of Russians committing such abuses. But backing the Obama Administration’s “reset” with Russia, Senate Democrats have shelved the bill. That may change.

At the top of the Obama Administration’s to do list is repealing the 1974 “Jackson-Vanik” trade restrictions aimed at Russia. Once effective at prodding the Soviet Union to allow Jewish emigration, that’s no longer an issue. With Russia entering the WTO, Congress will have to pass legislation to permanently lift the law, or the U.S. will face retaliatory tariffs from Russia.

Just about everyone – the Administration, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and Russian opposition leaders – agree it’s time for Jackson-Vanik to go. The Obama Administration says nothing should replace it, and that it’ll push human rights on its own. But that’s a tough sell to a skeptical Congress, especially as one witness told us that “Obama has been virtually silent on Russia’s deteriorating political situation.” Passage of human rights/rule of law legislation is the likely congressional price to repeal Jackson-Vanik.

So how bad is it in Russia? Consider this: more than two years after his death, Magnitsky will soon be prosecuted posthumously, the first time in Russian history. As one witness told the Committee – “Not even Stalin did that.” срочный займ на карту онлайн hairy girl https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php займ онлайн на карту без отказа

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