Posts Tagged ‘magnitskyu’

January 2013

The Son Of Putin’s Worst Enemy Explains What’s Going Wrong With Russia

Business Insider

Relations between Russia and the U.S. have recently hit a rough patch.

In December, Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, which will create a black list of Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. Hermitage Capital founder William Brouder had lobbied for years for the legislation, which is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Hermitage-lawyer who died in a Moscow jail after accusing officials of involvement in an enormous tax fraud.

Before the list could even be finalized, however, the Russian Duma hit back with its own legislation seeking to ban the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families. Russian media had complained about high profile cases of abuse for years, but the timing and severity of the legislation made it clear this was retaliation.

Given that just a few years ago we were talking about a U.S.-Russia “reset” in relations, the whole thing seems like a remarkable step backwards for the two countries. Add to that an ongoing clampdown on dissent in the country — most notably in the case of the anti-Putin feminist group Pussy Riot — and strict new legislation on homosexuality, the situation in Russia looks dark.

For insight on the matter, we talked to Pavel Khodorkovsky, the head of the Institute of Modern Russia and the son of a bitter enemy of President Vladimir Putin. Pavel’s father, Mikhail, was once Russia’s richest man, head of the enormous Yukos oil company with a personal fortune of $15 billion. A public spat with President Vladimir Putin, however, left him as one of Russia’s most famous prison inmates — and one of Putin’s most outspoken critics.

Pavel hasn’t been back to Russia since his father’s arrest, but keeps in close correspondence with Mikhail, monitoring events in Russia. He explained how the adoption ban seemed to be a bargaining chip for Russia, and one that Russian orphans would lose out from. He admitted that his family’s hope for the Russian opposition had initially been high, but that the Kremlin’s clampdown means “criteria by which we judge the progress will have to change.” Finally, he explained why the Magnitsky Act was so important, not just in the Hermitage Capital case, but also for other jailed dissidents, such as his father.

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