Vanik and Magnitsky vs. Mother Russia

The Senate of the U.S. Congress is ready to adopt a bill to abolish the Jackson-Vanik Amendment by early August. However, the abolition of the amendment is linked to the adoption of the law on sanctions against Russian nationals allegedly involved in the violation of human rights. This is the so-called "Magnitsky list" authored by Senator Benjamin Cardin.

"I support this position and I guarantee that these two important draft laws (on trade with Russia and the "Magnitsky list ") can be linked together, will be discussed by the (financial) Committee and adopted by the Senate this year, possibly before the recess in August," said on Tuesday head of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baukus. He emphasized that he intended to achieve the acceptance of such a bill as quickly as possible.

Judging by the statements made by the U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, the U.S. administration did not object to adopting the new bill. On the one hand, there is interest in lifting Jackson-Vanik amendment. This has more reasons than its archaism. The Obama administration believes that the amendment causes obstacles for the American businessmen first of all.

Victoria Nuland made a statement in this regard. According to her, in the case of any issues American businesses will not be able to bill Russia under the WTO rules while this legislation (i.e., amendment) is in place because they would not meet the requirements. 

As for the "Magnitsky list", until recently the U.S. administration was against linking it to the abolition of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Moreover, last year the State Department tried to be proactive, making a list of the Russians who are banned from entering the U.S. territory. However, the names were not named (as opposed to the list of Cardin). The only thing that Washington has achieved was a counter-list from Russia.

The bill proposing the introduction of visa and economic sanctions against the individuals suspected of the involvement in the death in jail of a lawyer Magnitsky was introduced in the U.S. Congress in April of 2011. Among the lobbyists for the bill was not only its author, Benjamin Cardin, but his Senate colleague John McCain. In addition, heads of the international committees of the Senate and House of Representatives at U.S. Congress John Kerry and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen supported the idea to link the lifting of Jackson-Vanik amendment to the simultaneous adoption of the draft law on "the list of Magnitsky".

It seems that the Obama administration decided not to show too much persistence in responding to the request of the congressmen and senators to adopt a "combined" bill. Perhaps one of the reasons is the election campaign gaining momentum. It is unlikely that Barack Obama is interested in an extra reason for criticism by his rivals.The important thing is that Washington is not ready to give up such an instrument of political pressure. Jackson-Vanik amendment is simply ridiculous. Hence, it is necessary to find a modern replacement, which would be the infamous "Magnitsky list."  Incidentally, part of Russia's liberal opposition insists on its adoption.

It has little to do with justice, yet, it is not the goal here.

Anton Kulikov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov