MOSCOW, November 20 (RIA Novosti)
State Duma’s Answer to Magnitsky List
The State Duma will consider a proportionate response to the U.S. Magnitsky List act next month. Selected U.S. officials will be banned from entering Russia, an official said.
There are two options. The first list is limited to U.S. officials guilty of violating the rights of Russian nationals in America; the second proposal is an “expanded” list.
“The bill will definitely go through. The first version could be activated in an instant,” said Alexei Pushkov, head of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs. “If we opt for the second list, the bill will be expanded to include all foreign citizens found guilty of gross human rights violations abroad.”
In that case, those responsible for the cases of Viktor Bout and pilot Alexei Yaroshenko, convicted in the United States of smuggling arms and drugs, could be joined by officials involved in the military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, which led to mass casualties among civilians. The expanded bill will also apply to torture used on inmates at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, the CIA secret prisons in Europe, Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and the Bagram base in Afghanistan. It will take into account all cases of abuse recognized by international human rights observers.
Izvestia has previously reported that proposals for adding names to the list can come from both houses of the Russian parliament, as well as the country’s human rights ombudsman, the Public Chamber and regional legislatures.
Whatever the case, officials on this list will face serious sanctions, Pushkov said. In addition to a ban on entering Russia, any financial assets they may have in Russian banks will be seized, and any property or investment deals they might plan to carry through Russian banks will be blocked.
No final decision has yet been taken, but Russia’s response to the Magnitsky List should be proportionate. That is why Russian lawmakers have suspended any decision until they learn more about the version of the bill U.S. President Barack Obama will be asked to sign.
“We have already discussed this at a committee meeting,” Pushkov said. “Our response should be proportionate – no one throws a nuclear bomb in retaliation for a torpedo blast.”
These sanctions are unlikely to cause serious discomfort to U.S. officials, because they do not keep money in Russian banks or buy Russian property, so this response will be ridiculous, said the committee’s deputy head, Communist lawmaker Leonid Kalashnikov.
“We should have retaliated after the sanctions against the Rosoboronexport operations. But we just kept quiet then,” he added.
Iosif Diskin from the Public Chamber backs the expanded list option as the only correct response, adding that the bill should be extended to cover those who violate the rights of Russian minorities in the Baltic States.
“This bill is important from a foreign policy perspective and highly useful for domestic policy as well,” he said. “Once we set a high international benchmark for observing human rights, we will have no other choice but to keep to it ourselves.”
Two-Bedroom Apartment, Money Under Mattress, Jalopy in the Garage
The typical bureaucrat, as seen through the eyes of Russian leaders
Dmitry Medvedev announced that government officials unfamiliar with electronic document management will have to resign. Here MN reviews other requirements for public servants that the president, prime minister or other top officials have previously outlined.
“Government officials – if they believe in their country – must keep their money in Russia even if the conditions for keeping money here are worse than in certain other economies,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with United Russia activists on September 12, 2012.
“Government officials won’t learn anything new until their supervisors bite their heads off,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting on the development of the fishing industry on September 7, 2012.
“I think federal and municipal officials, as well as contractors and companies sponsored by the federal budget, should only purchase vehicles produced within the common economic space, by which I mean Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus,” Vladimir Putin said at a meeting on the development of the automotive industry on April 4, 2012.
“There is absolutely no reason for government officials to hold accounts in foreign banks. The issue of real estate is more complicated. Castles in Switzerland or the United Kingdom are one thing and a simple two-bedroom apartment somewhere in Bulgaria is quite another,” Sergei Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, said on October 4, 2012.
“When a person in a position of power uses Twitter, it is not just a personal account because anything they tweet could be viewed as official. This shouldn’t be forgotten,” Dmitry Peskov, the President’s Press Secretary, said on November 8, 2012.
“If it comes to stricter punishment for the violation of social norms by public servants, I will definitely support it, including a ban on strong language and other offensive actions. Speaking about a code of ethics of sorts, it’s not clear to me how one can describe ethics in legal terms. I think this idea could be realized as a declaration rather than a legal obligation,” Sergei Zheleznyak, State Duma Deputy Speaker and member of United Russia, said on August 13, 2012.
“Someone working for the benefit of Russia must be in this country completely – with their property, money and thoughts,” Sergei Zheleznyak, State Duma Deputy Speaker and member of United Russia, said on August 17, 2012.
“We need to find decisions to explain to government officials that they work for the state, hence their purpose is to think about people rather than about English lawns or a view of the Eiffel Tower from their window,” Andrei Vorobyov, former leader of the United Russia parliamentary party, said on September 20, 2012.
Krasnoyarsk Opposition Leader Tells How He Was Tortured
Journalist Denis Styazhkin, a leader of the Solidarity opposition movement in Krasnoyarsk, has posted a video clip on LiveJournal in which he claims that masked men tortured him twice to make him disclose the opposition’s plans.
Local police are investigating his case. Styazhkin is preparing to file a statement with the prosecutor’s office.
You say you were first kidnapped on September 6, before a visit by Patriarch Kirill to Krasnoyarsk.
I was leaving my garage at about 9 p.m. when a Zhiguli car blocked my exit. Five men wearing black masks and dark clothes put a sack over my head and bundled me into the car. They drove me to a forest and tortured me with a taser and beat me. It lasted an hour.
What did they want?
They asked me about the planned protest actions. I told them we had no such plans, but they said they had information to the contrary.
Then they said that if I wanted to live I would not tell anyone about what had happened and then they drove me back. They threw my passport at me, but not my wallet or driving license.
At the time, I was a Solidarity leader and organized its actions in Krasnoyarsk. Before the Patriarch’s visit, journalists asked me if we were planning anything. I told them that we were.
I also refused to answer a police summons. I have received about 50 of them over the past year. Many of my colleagues had been summoned to the police, where they were asked about our plans.
But I was the only one to receive such harsh treatment.
Did you report it?
No, I feared for my life. Besides, what happened to Kashin [Oleg Kashin, a Kommersant journalist, who was severely beaten – MK] shows that nothing good comes of seeking police assistance.
And then you were attacked again?
Yes, on October 11. It happened in broad daylight. A car stopped in front of the store I was leaving, four men in masks put a sack over my head and bundled me into the car. When people asked what was going on, they said I was being taken into custody.
They drove me into a field, put my finger into pliers and hit me in my chest. They asked for my email and social network passwords. I gave them some.
After 25 minutes of torture, they left me in the field and drove away. When I got home, I changed my passwords.
Will you make a statement to the prosecutor’s office in Moscow?
I came to Moscow on November 17 and the next day I posted a video clip about the torture. I have asked the advice of human rights activists. We plan to make a statement to the prosecutor’s office.
What about your family in Krasnoyarsk?
Thank God, my parents have not been threatened. I am not sure I will return to Krasnoyarsk.
Will you continue your opposition activities?
I will, but very cautiously.
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Some people are trying to make the reality in Russia at least a bit more humane. The amnesty should apply not only to persons involved in high-profile cases, but also to individuals who are not as well-known. It is better to set free at least some of the individuals who deserve to be released than no one at all.