Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

US Senators Call For “Magnitsky List” Expansion

00 same ol' shit. 29.05.12

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On Friday, a group of senior US Senators asked the Obama administration to expand a blacklist of alleged Russian human rights abusers, inflaming tensions between Washington and Moscow. US Senators Robert Menendez (DNJ), Bob Corker (RTN), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement that they’re disappointed that no one suffered sanctions since April under the Magnitsky Act, an American law punishing alleged Russian human rights violations. According to a published statement, the senators requested US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, “We look forward to your response to our request and hope you’ll also clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list”.

President Obama signed the Magnitsky Act in December 2012; it introduced visa and financial sanctions on those Washington deemed complicit in the 2009 death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow jail, as well as other purported abuses {using no evidence whatsoever but hearsay from hostile parties: editor}. In April, Washington released the names of 18 officials targeted by the Magnitsky Act sanctions and said that a handful of other Russians were on a classified sanctions list in the interests of US national security. The law requires the President to give an annual report to Congress explaining why it added or removed names from the blacklist. The report is also required to include details of the administration’s efforts to encourage other countries to enact similar legislation.

The four senators, all members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said in their request Friday that the inaugural report submitted by the administration on 20 December dissatisfied them, saying, “Disappointingly and contrary to repeated assurances and expectations, this report indicates that no persons have been added to the Magnitsky list since April 2013 and doesn’t provide adequate details on the administration’s efforts to encourage other governments to impose similar targeted sanctions”. On Wednesday, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing that the administration is examining possible additions to the list, saying, “We’re continuing to look at names that could be added to the list, and we’ll continue that process in the weeks ahead”. The Magnitsky Act incensed Russia, which responded in part by banning US citizens from adopting Russian children. In response, Moscow issued its own blacklist of 18 American officials it linked to the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp, or to alleged rights violations against Russians abroad.

18 January 2014

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/world/20140118/186648078/US-Senators-Call-For-Magnitsky-List-Expansion.html

Editor’s Note:

McCain acted as a lobbyist for the Georgian government (as did his foreign policy wonk Scheunemann) and is a general supporter of American warmongering throughout the world… that explains that one. Menendez is of Cuban background, described as “close with Republicans on several foreign policy issues”, a warmonger, and supporter of the PATRIOT Act… sounds much like McCain, doesn’t he? Corker is anti-union, anti-arms control, against financial regulation, a gun nutter, and another warmonger… hmm… they all seem the same despite seeming political differences, aren’t they (they’re all cut from the same piece of mouldy neoliberal cloth).

Cardin’s more difficult to pigeonhole. He’s left of centre on almost all issues. However, he’s a vociferous member of the Israel Lobby, and they tend to Russophobia. Why he’d join forces with the Terrible Trio above is beyond me. Can’t he see that he’s joining himself with an evil ideology? Sadly, facts and logic won’t move him (and those like him). He believes the fairy tales about Cossacks constantly abusing Jews… one can’t fight that, only oppose it (it’s one of those bigoted emotional illogical hatreds). In fact, I’d say that one of the reasons that Russia gets “bad press” is that many American Jews are Russophobic. That doesn’t mean that one “retaliates”… it means that one’s aware of it and takes reasonable precautions to protect oneself against any possible fallout. Do be aware that the more feral Russophobes don’t “fight fair”… do cover your back if you interact with them, either online or in person. I’d say to leave them be… the risks far outnumber the positives. Pass the truth to those who’ll listen… trust me; that DOES do good.

BMD

 

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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Prisoners’ Rights Violations in the USA

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During the spring of 2012, the US State Department sharply criticised Russia for conditions in its prisons. American officials claim numerous violations of prisoners’ rights due to harsh prison conditions, poor medical care, and violent staff {that sounds like Texas or Alabama: editor}. The report calls these conditions “life threatening”. US lawmakers were also quick to respond to the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention. They adopted the so-called Magnitsky blacklist of financial and travel sanctions against top Russian officials allegedly linked to the lawyer’s death. In July 2011, the US State Department put 11 Russian officials on the US visa blacklist… the so-called Cardin list initiated by Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

However, what about sanctions for those responsible for bad detention conditions in American prisons? The word “bad” seems to be too mild for what’s happening in California prisons. In late March 2012, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law went to the UN on behalf of California prisoners kept in solitary confinement. The petition says that some 4,000 inmates languish in isolation cells for years because of their alleged gang ties. The lawyers claimed that some people spend years in jail even without committing any crime, supposing that a number of prisoners were jailed for taking part in hunger strikes. The petition noted, “They live like prisoners held in a GULag, not a modern democracy”. The Center also reported violent guards, bad food, and poor medical care in California prisons. Earlier, in the fall of 2011, some 12,000 California inmates went on a hunger strike demanding better conditions. Then, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that the reported number of strikers had been exaggerated.

This case isn’t unique. The USA is number one in the world in the number of prisoners (a quarter of all detainees in the world), and it’s first in the number of prisoners per capita (754 inmates/100,000 population). These statistics come from the Pew Research Center, which means that they’re quite trustworthy. Such a large number of prisoners require vast spending on both the federal and local level. According to the Pew, the USA spent some 11 billion dollars on prisons in 1987, whilst in exceeded 49 billion dollars in 2007. The number of prisoners increased threefold in the last 20 years.

The problem involving prisoners concerns not only US law-enforcement agencies but also it’s a social problem triggering discrimination. Pew said that the inmates’ race/ethnicity ratio differs from the ethnic composition of the American population. One can observe the same discrepancy in the punishment of white vs. dark-skinned criminals. Whites are more often released on probation, whilst dark-skinned Americans are mostly incarcerated, for the same drug-related offences, a disparity that causes ethnic and social conflicts. Meanwhile, official prison reports don’t provide many details of prisoners’ life and they explain the growing numbers of prisoners by tougher measures undertaken by law enforcement agencies after 9/11.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for hundreds of California inmates held in solitary confinement because of their gang ties filed a petition to the UN to intervene to stop the practise and investigate living conditions and prisoners’ health. The petition, sent to a UN working group on arbitrary detention, comes after about 6,000 inmates at 13 prisons in the state went on a summer hunger strike. Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law said that the petition focused on more than 400 inmates held in isolation cells for years because of alleged gang ties.

25 August 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_08_25/Prisoners-rights-violation-in-the-US/

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

US Senate Committee Approves Magnitsky Bill

One of the main reasons for the Magnitsky Bill is that Russia wiped up the floor with one of America’s lickspittle allies, Georgia, in the ’08 South Ossetia WarJohn McCain is a supporter of the Magnitsky bill… John McCain is (or was) a paid shill for the Georgian government (and remained such during the entire 2008 US Presidential election)… any questions? Oh, yes… the Georgians started the war by firing rockets on sleeping civilians… that’s what American Republicans applaud. 

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On Tuesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a bill that would impose sanctions on Russian officials allegedly linked to Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death in 2009. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, sponsored by US Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), seeks to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of 37-year-old Russian lawyer Magnitsky, as well as in other gross human rights abuses in Russia. Russia strongly objects to the act, but it has broad support in Congress, although the Obama administration doesn’t look too enthusiastic about it.

In November 2008, the cops arrested Magnitsky on tax evasion charges days after accusing police investigators of a 230 million USD tax refund fraud, and he died after almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention centre in Moscow. A probe into his death revealed that the lawyer, who was suffering from untreated pancreatitis and a heart condition, didn’t receive proper medical treatment. Human rights activists pointed to multiple violations of his rights during his arrest and in detention, including signs that prison guards beaten him hours before his death.

Russia warned that it’d respond to the adoption of the bill in kind, imposing restrictions on US officials. The US State Department issued visa bans on several dozen Russian officials in connection to the Magnitsky case in July 2011. In response, Russia imposed travel bans on several US officials. A group of influential US senators, including former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, proposed in mid-March to cancel the Jackson-Vanik amendment, but simultaneously adopting the Magnitsky bill. The Jackson-Vanik amendment, passed in 1974, barred favourable trade relations with the Soviet Union because it wouldn’t let Jews emigrate. The restrictions imposed by Jackson-Vanik are often waived, but they remain in place, and are a thorn in the side of Russia-US trade relations.

The Magnitsky case, along with the Jackson-Vanik amendment and the rift over the Syrian crisis, are major stumbling blocks in the “reset” of US-Russian relations. The Obama administration, which has been evasive about the proposed legislation, on said on 18 June that it considers it necessary to distinguish between the adoption of the Magnitsky blacklist and the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.

27 June 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120627/174259708.html

Monday, 11 June 2012

Russia to Respond to Magnitsky Act

This smells like the same ol’, same ol’… plenty of muck in all the byres, I say…

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RF Gosduma Deputy Aleksei Pushkov, the heads of the Gosduma Committee on Foreign Affairs, declared that if the US Congress approved the so-called Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act, Russia would respond accordingly. Yesterday, one of the committees of the US House of Representatives approved the draft bill. The Act stipulates visa-issuing and financial sanctions against Russian officials who, in the authors’ opinion, were privy to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Experts interviewed by VOR believed that both chambers of the US Congress would approve the Act.

On 7 June, the majority of Congressmen in the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the so-called Magnitsky Act. The initiator of this bill is Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) {he’s one of the most virulent and biased members of the Israel Lobby… so this is no surprise, along with being one of the most pro-Corporate and anti-transparency whores out there (he’s no leftist, by any measure): editor}. He’s made a list of people who’re, in his opinion, involved in the death of Magnitsky and responsible for violations associated with his arrest {note well that it ISN’T the fruit of an objective formal investigation… it’s just a pol’s unhinged and unfounded speculations and suspicions: editor}. To recap, Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow isolation ward in 2009 whilst under investigation on tax charges. Cardin drew up the Magnitsky Act on the basis of a list of officials’ names. The Act would freeze their assets in US banks and deny them US visas.

According to official procedure, after passing the Committee on Foreign Affairs, two other committees must approve the Act. Then, it goes before the entire House of Representatives for a vote. Then, a similar procedure would occur in the US Senate. Political scientist Yuri Korguniuk said, “Considering that elections for the US Congress are to be held in November, it’s obvious that both parties will use the bill to score political points. I can’t see any obstacles to the Congress accepting this Act. In the election campaign, the Democrats want to demonstrate that they’re not encouraging Russia to violate human rights. Some lobbyists could be against the Act stressing that it’d be better not to aggravate relations with Russia. Anyway, I don’t think anyone will listen to them in the heat of the election campaign.”

In March this year, several US Senators with Republican John McCain at the head, spoke in favour of cancelling the Jackson-Vanik Amendment in exchange for the approval of the Magnitsky Act by Congress. Jackson-Vanik, adopted in the 1970s, introduced restrictions on trade with the USSR, and, later, with Russia. The Obama Administration declared that this doesn’t solve anything, and is now negotiating with Cardin and other Senators. Many US businessmen are against the notorious bill, amongst them the President of the influential National Foreign Trade Council, William Reinsch.

Valery Garbuzov, an expert in American studies, said, “However, when one man’s tragedy is used for political purposes, it’s unlikely that the Congress will listen to reason. Obama’s promoting a ‘reset’ of relations, but the Congress has a strong influence on US domestic and foreign policy. Dozens of congressmen have Russophobic views, and they won’t change them in the near future. We should consider this as reality. Actually, one could predict such a response from the USA”.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that it could consider the approval of the Magnitsky Act by the US Congress as interference in Russia’s internal affairs. For example, Deputy Pushkov said that Russia could take equivalent measures, such as make lists of Americans who violate the rights of Russian citizens, and refuse them Russian visas {this is a not-so-veiled reference to Viktor Bout and others illegally nicked by the Americans outside of the USA: editor}. At the same time, experts pointed up that it’s too early to forecast the aggravation of Russian-American relations if the Congress approves the Magnitsky Act. Political experts noted that Russia and the USA have common interests on a whole range of topics, such as the preservation of the strategic armaments balance, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and providing global security.

8 June 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_06_08/77530131/

Editor’s Note:

Magnitsky was involved with a Langley-affiliated front, “Hermitage Capital Management”. In short, he was a Langley asset in all but name (much like Potapov, when he was at the BBG). That is, America believes that it has the right to place its agents in any country, and that it has the right to interfere in those countries, as it wills. Most states take umbrage at that, quite properly. Could you imagine the brouhaha if the Russian Ambassador to the USA did a tenth of what the USA attempts to pull in Russia? Why, there’d be pandemonium in Congress. If we wouldn’t like it if it were done to us, we shouldn’t be doing it to others, full stop.

Very conveniently, Hermitage Capitol has an incorporation in Guernsey and the Cayman Islands, which means that it’s immune from US government oversight. It sees one of its main functions as exposing political/corporate corruption in Russia. Hell, they don’t have to go that far… just dig around in the District; you’d find beaucoup instances of corporate/political fraud. They’d come up with more corruption on one block of K Street than they’d ever find in the entire Kremlin. Oh, I forgot… all the pols are on K Street’s payroll, so, the lobbyists have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card signed by Cardin and Darrell Issa… bipartisan from both houses, dontcha know! Judged by the standards of the District, the Russian government are a bunch of pikers compared to the US Congress (Mark Twain had a thing or two to say on that score) when it comes to featherbedding, corruption, earmarking, and general raking in of the boodle.

In short, this is typical DC Sturm und Drang… it’s the usual hypocritical posturing and bloviating. Let’s see… how many Congressmen AREN’T millionaires? There’s not many of those, are there? Cardin had best keep his mouth zipped or his manifest ties to Corporate America might become better known. He certainly DOES know corruption (could one say from the inside?)…

BMD

Appendix:

Mark Twain had something to say about the US Congress:

It’s defended official criminals, on party pretexts, until it’s created a US Senate whose members are incapable of determining what crime against law and the dignity of their own body is… they’re so morally blind… and it’s made light of dishonesty till we have, as a result, a Congress which contracts to work for a certain sum and then deliberately steals additional wages out of the public pocket and is pained and surprised that anybody should worry about a little thing like that.

He also said:

Who’re the oppressors? The few… the King, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who’re the oppressed? The many… the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.

There… Mark Twain’s verdict on the Benjamin Cardins and John McCains of this world (along with their corporate paymasters)… it’s none too flattering, is it? America dares to “judge” the world… and does worse in its own precincts. They need to muck out their own byre before passing judgement on others. I seem to smell it from here… pass me the jug…

BMD

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