In a recent Pravda.ru editorial, numerous Russian leaders and thinkers took aim at a U.S. law that imposed economic sanctions on individuals believed to have been involved in the arrest, torture, and death of Sergei Magnitsky. The equivalent of a whistleblower, Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who took on Russian corruption and paid the price. For some background on this case, follow this link.
The Russian government sure does know how to harbor a grudge. Despite the end of the Cold War decades ago, there are folks within the ruling elite who still see old-style boogeymen from that era. Why mark a “one-year anniversary” of a law by calling attention to it?
“A year ago I thought, and I still do, that the Magnitsky Act makes absolutely no sense, but to worsen relations with Russia and restrict opportunities for the Obama administration for improving dialogue with Moscow,” the head of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs, Alexei Pushkov, told Pravda.Ru.
Pushkov was just warming up. Here is some more:
“So it’s hypocritical empty. It is harmful, because it let opponents of Russia in the United States worsen relations between Moscow and Washington. This law will always be in effect. Every year, the U.S. Congress will ask the administration to include new names in it. This is like a permanent mine laid underneath the US-Russian relations, from which only anti-Russian congressmen, senators and U.S. politicians can benefit. They still live in Cold War times.”
As if all the histrionics were not enough, he also adds some addditional bravado that the law is “hypocritical” and has been “completely discredited” because the U.S. has failed to apply the same standards to other countries. For a moment the only thought that came to mind was ruffled Nikita Khruschev at the United Nations:
Magnitsky-like laws are a likely trend that, if the events warrant it, will be expanded to other places and persons who decide to abuse human rights rather than follow the rule of law. If you want to enjoy the many benefits of visiting and doing business with the United States, be prepared to account.
The real reason why these folks are so upset is that there are reports that the U.S. is set to publish a broader set of names of individuals implicated in the events that led to the Magnitsky’s death. In other words, the implementation and enforcement has barely started; and the European Union is considering implementing a similar listing process.
Rather that rant, Pushkov and other Russian leaders should work to bring these lawbreakers to justice. Condoning illegal behavior is not what allies and civilized nations are supposed to do.
The complete Pravda article is available here.
There is also a good website documenting the Magnitsky matter that is well worth a few minutes of your time: Stop the Untouchables. Justice for Sergei Magnitsky.