President Obama must stand up for Russia’s dissidents

Daily Telegraph

A network of student presidents from universities around the world, College-100 (or C-100), has done a sterling job of exposing corruption in Russia, producing the video below about the case of Sergei Magnitsky.

To get you up to speed, Mr Magnitsky was a Russian tax attorney who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud perpetrated by corrupt bureaucrats working in league with the FSB (the KGB’s successor agency). Instead of thanking him for his spadework, which might have recompensed the Russian taxpayer, the state allowed the very criminals Mr Magnitsky had exposed to arrest and torture him to death in a gruesome year-long pre-trial detention. Russia is now trying Mr Magnitsky posthumously for the crime no one -not even his jailers – believe he committed.

European parliaments, the House of Commons, the European Union and the United States Congress are all mulling separate forms of legislation to issue travel bans and asset freezes to the 60 known conspirators in Mr Magnitsky’s persecution (the logic being that criminals in Russia like to go abroad to spend their stolen fortunes).

The US Senate bill, sponsored by two-thirds of the Senate, actually threatens to impose sanctions and visa restrictions against anyone from any foreign country credibly accused of “gross human rights violations.” In other words, it’s a universal proscription that might come in handy the next time a lawyer tries to do his job – or smuggles himself into a US embassy.

Russia’s own human rights monitors have uncovered much of the evidence in the Magnitsky case – so its “credibly” is dubious.

C-100 has interviewed scholars, journalists, former Russian government officials and Russian oppositionists for its seven-minute video. The most enjoyable bit, however, is watching the American ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul – a prominent opponent of the US Senate bill – to effectively argue on its behalf.

Of course, Mr McFaul is the architect of the Obama administration’s “reset” policy with Russia, which was premised on the mistaken assumption that outgoing president Dmitry Medvedev was more than just an seat-warmer for the once and future president Vladimir Putin – the new Start treaty is a disgrace. And worse still, Mr Obama has deputised Mr McFaul in a campaign to try and kill the landmark human rights bill authored by members of his own party.

This makes reset either dead or cremated, depending on your perspective. Even in the austere grammar of realpolitik, Mr Putin has shown the United States what he really thinks of bilateral relations. He has continued to back Bashar al-Assad’s campaign of mass murder and rape in Syria. He has dispatched his thuggish proxies and state-controlled propaganda outlets to harangue Mr McFaul wherever the poor man goes in Moscow.

As Gary Kasparov and others have shrewdly observed, Obama’s engagement with Russia proceeded from the fallacy that accommodating an undemocratic regime leads to lasting bilateral stability and an era of returned favours. In reality, however, it doesn’t. Once that regime’s bluff is called by its own people – the regime lashes out, blaming an external conspiracy for its own inevitable loss of support.

This is why continued gestures from Washington have been met with indifference by Moscow. Mr Putin has just snubbed an invitation to attend the upcoming G8 and Nato summits next week. The G8 is set to take place at Camp David. It was relocated from Chicago (where Nato is being held) because Mr Obama wanted to spare the Russian president any awkwardness and allow him to at least attend the G8 (he’s already signalled he won’t attend the Nato summit).

But Mr Putin has said he’ll be too busy finalising his Cabinet appointments to make the trip, so why not send that familiar hollow-man Mr Medvedev instead? We already know Dmitry is a reliable relayer of information to Vladimir. As Anders Aslund wrote recently in Foreign Policy, “Putin will never respect Obama if the US president permits himself to be humiliated like that.”

Somehow I think Mr Obama’s coping just fine with the humiliation. But it’s his abdication of America’s moral responsibility to stand up for dissidents that’s truly bothersome to Russians and Americans alike. So make sure you go to this website and sign the petition telling Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act. займ срочно без отказов и проверок срочный займ https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php https://zp-pdl.com/how-to-get-fast-payday-loan-online.php займ онлайн на карту без отказа

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