30 September 2010
On September 30th, 2010 the Hudson Institute hosted a luncheon on “Russia and the Rule of Law”. Speakers Vadim Klyuvgant, David Satter, and Andrei Piontkovsky presented examples of how corruption is prominent in Russia and opinions on how to resolve a greatly fractured system of justice.
Klyuvgant, lead defense attorney for Mikhail Khodokovsky, once head of YUKOS Oil, contends that Khodokovsky’s trial is a mockery, a ‘smoke-screen’ for the rule of law in which prosecutors create webs of lies and fabricated evidence in order to incriminate him for a crime it is ‘impossible he committed’. This depicts the true capacity of the Russian government to conduct itself with disregard to values of law and justice commonly requested by citizens today. He states that the national government contradicts itself with agendas of modernization and democracy while turning a blind-eye to lower lever corruption.
Hudson Institute Senior Fellow David Satter also suggests that visa restrictions by the United States would make a significant impact on the public outlook of corrupt officials and oligarchs in Russia. However, Andrew Piontkovsky, the author of Russian Identity, affirms that visa restrictions are only a first step and that the United States should take a stronger role in fighting corruption and human rights abuses in Russia and other states for that matter.
Just yesterday (29 Sept), the Honorable Benjamin L Cardin presented the Magnitsky Act of 2010 to the President of the United States. It calls for sanctions, specifically visa restrictions, on officials involved in the arrest of Sergei Magnitsky and his death while in prison. He states:
“Sergei Magnitsky was a young Russian anti-corruption lawyer employed by a prominent American law firm in Moscow who blew the whistle on the largest known tax rebate fraud in Russian history perpetrated by high level Russian officials. After discovering this complex and brazen corruption scheme, Sergei Magnitsky dutifully testified to the authorities detailing the conspiracy to defraud the Russian people of approximately $230 million dollars and naming the names of those officials. Shortly after his testimony, Sergei was arrested by subordinates of the very law enforcement officers he had implicated in this crime. He was held in detention for nearly a year without trial under torturous conditions and died in an isolation cell while prison doctors waited outside his door on November 16, 2009.”1
With stories like this becoming increasingly common, it is time that pressure is put on Russia to enforce fair judicial order and incriminate those involved in corruption. However, with an agenda of fighting nuclear proliferation, natural disasters, and two wars in the middle east, United States foreign policy advisors have more than enough on their plate. A strong coalition of countries is needed to force Russia into redeveloping its infrastructure and creating a more stable domestic environment.
- Cardin, Hon. Benjamin L. “Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act of 2010”, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Helsinki Commission. Proceedings and Debates of the 111th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. 155, No. 18. Washington, DC. 29 September 2010.