EU Lawmakers Expand Effort to Sanction Russian Rights Abusers

World Affairs

As the US administration readies its first annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Magnitsky Act, the law imposing visa and financial sanctions on Russian human rights abusers, European legislators are preparing a strategy to move forward with their own sanctions package. Last week, the European Parliament hosted the first meeting of the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Inter-Parliamentary Group, which brings together lawmakers from 13 countries (11 of them from the European Union) and an advisory board that includes representatives from Russia (among them, the author of this blog). The aim of the new coalition is to coordinate between the national parliaments and the European Parliament on the best way to move forward with barring Russian officials implicated in corruption and human rights violations from visiting and stowing their assets in EU member states and Canada.

The Magnitsky Act, passed by the US Congress last year with vast bipartisan majorities (365 to 43 in the House; 92 to 4 in the Senate), was, despite Kremlin assertions to the country, the most pro-Russian law ever adopted in a foreign country. With corruption and political repression being the founding pillars of Russia’s current regime, and with no independent judiciary to protect Russian citizens from abuse, external individual sanctions on those who commit these offenses are the only way to end the impunity. According to a Levada Center poll, 44 percent of Russians support US and EU visa bans on officials who engage in human rights violations, with only 21 percent opposing, and this despite constant attempts by the Putin regime to present individual sanctions against crooks and abusers as “sanctions against Russia”—an insulting equivalence for the country. Leading Russian opposition figures and human rights activists are publicly supporting the Magnitsky sanctions; many of their testimonies have been included in a new book edited by Elena Servettaz, Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law, which was presented in European capitals and Washington DC.

Just as US lawmakers of both parties had to overcome resistance from an administration determined to “reset” relations with the Kremlin’s authoritarian regime, so the European parliamentarians have to deal with EU executive structures that do not wish to antagonize Vladimir Putin. It seems the answer in Brussels may be similar to the one found in Washington: in the end, the US Magnitsky sanctions were passed in exchange for repealing the Jackson-Vanik trade amendment. The EU is currently negotiating a visa facilitation agreement with Moscow, and a key demand of the Russian government is to allow thousands of holders of the so-called “blue” service passports (that is, government officials) visa-free entry to the European Union. This agreement will have to be approved by the European Parliament. At the Inter-Parliamentary Group meeting in Brussels, European lawmakers Barbara Lochbihler of Germany and Kristiina Ojuland of Estonia proposed conditioning the ratification of visa-free entry for Russian “blue” passport holders on the introduction of individual sanctions against Russian human rights abusers.

Meanwhile, the US list of individuals who fall under the Magnitsky sanctions is expected to be updated and expanded before the end of this year. US Senators Benjamin Cardin, a Democrat, and Roger Wicker, a Republican, have publicly called for the inclusion in the list of Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, who has been in charge of all the recent politically motivated prosecutions in Russia, including the “Bolotnaya Square case,” the Khodorkovsky case, and the case of the arrested Greenpeace activists. His inclusion in the list would send a powerful and positive signal—a signal that the US government takes its declared commitment to human rights seriously. займы онлайн на карту срочно hairy girl https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php займ на карту

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