Support The Moscow Times!

House Committee Approves Magnitsky Bill

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Eric Bridiers

A committee of the U.S. Congress voted Thursday to penalize Russian officials for human rights abuses, adding to tensions with Moscow and complicating White House efforts to pass Russian trade legislation in coming months.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved on a voice vote the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, named after a 37-year-old anti-corruption lawyer who worked for the equity fund Hermitage Capital. His 2009 death after a year in Russian jails spooked investors and blackened Russia's image abroad.

The measure would require the United States to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians linked to Magnitsky's death. The Obama administration already has imposed visa restrictions on some Russians believed to have been involved in Magnitsky's death, but kept their names quiet.

Russian officials have warned repeatedly that passage of the bill would harm U.S.-Russian relations. The measure would make the list of alleged offenders public, broaden it to include other abusers of human rights in Russia and prohibit them from doing their banking in U.S. institutions.

Approval by the House panel was the first step in advancing the bill by Representative Jim McGovern, but its future remains uncertain. Before it can get a vote of the full House, two more committees must either approve it or waive jurisdiction. The Senate has not acted on a similar bill by Senator Ben Cardin.

Some U.S. lawmakers are hoping to attach the Magnitsky bill to a proposal to grant "permanent normal trade relations" between the United States and Russia that the Obama administration is expected to ask Congress to approve this year. U.S. business groups oppose that step, and the White House says it prefers a "clean" trade bill.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more