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Odnako, Russia

Sanctions” against Russia:
Americans Love Being Rude,
but Love Money More

By Mikhail Leontev

Translated By Rina Hay

21 November 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Russia - Odnako - Original Article (Russian)

The “Magnitsky Act,” which was passed by the U.S. Congress as an aside to the abolition of the idiotic Jackson-Vanik amendment, has naturally drawn a reaction from the Russian side. Of course, when dealing with foreign rudeness it is acceptable to respond in kind. But, by and large, it is not quite understood what all the commotion is about.

The notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment, which introduced trade restrictions in response to the restrictions on Jewish emigration from the USSR, had been in place since 1974, although throughout the last decade it has served as a ridiculous anachronism that the Americans were in no hurry to get rid of. The situation changed after Russia joined the WTO and American companies decided that the discriminatory amendment would interfere with their new-found abilities to take advantage of the Russian market.

Well, of course, as we are talking about serious money, the Americans showed their traditional zeal. But in order to come to an agreement with Congress, the administration was forced to agree to create a link to “human rights” in the Magnitsky Act.

Let us remember that this act allows for a ban on travel to the U.S. for certain unnamed Russian officials who have been implicated in the death of the lawyer Magnitsky in jail, as well as for other cases of death or persecution of human rights activists, or for those who the U.S. considers such — and for the ability to freeze their accounts in U.S. banks.

And, actually, that's it. What a terrible shame! Our officials — that is, first and foremost, our security forces — will lose the ability to travel to the U.S. And they will — oh, God! — face frozen accounts in U.S. banks. If I could just ask a question: Is it really so terrifying that our officials, having trampled all over human rights, will be selectively gracious to the U.S. Congress and travel not to the states, but, for example, to Italy?! And is it really necessary for them to have accounts in U.S. banks?

The Americans, of course, are being rude. They are being rude both deliberately and publicly and once again spreading U.S. legislation beyond the borders of its jurisdiction. This is perhaps worthy of the standard diplomatic response, but certainly nothing new has happened. And perhaps we should thank them for the constructive disciplinary initiative. It's just a pity that we couldn't place all our officials on the “Magnitsky list.”

In response to the Magnitsky Act, the Russian foreign ministry advised U.S. Congressmen to look at the ugly state of human rights in the U.S., drawing our attention to torture in the CIA's special prisons, the secret police's kidnapping of foreign citizens and the illegal indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay.

I must repeat that the traditions of diplomacy require responses in kind. However, we should actually have no interest in the human rights situation in the U.S., unless it concerns our citizens or people who have been particularly nice to us. This matter is exclusively in the sovereign interest of the American people. The same, by the way, can be said about election observers. Every sovereign people has the right to choose for themselves who has what right, who to vote for or whether or not to vote at all.

Our political system and the rights of our people is our political concern and no one else’s. Thank you for the Magnitsky Act. We will, of course, try to use it to defend our sovereignty.



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