January 01, 2013

Blacklist Wars



When, in 2010, US Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) proposed a new bill to blacklist Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of 37-year-old lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, few in the Russian establishment took the initiative seriously. They likely now wish they had.

On December 6, by a vote of 92-4, the US Senate passed the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012. When President Obama signs the bill into law, it will graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 and establish permanent normal trade relations between the US and Russia for the first time in four decades.

Yet part of the deal in getting this bill through the US Senate with such a bipartisan vote was the inclusion of the so-called "Magnitsky Act," which will require that the federal government freeze the assets of Russians implicated in human rights abuses and deny them visas.


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