Magnitsky Act

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Magnitsky Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012
Nicknames Magnitsky Act
Enacted by the 112th United States Congress
Citations
Public law Pub.L. 112–208
Statutes at Large 126 Stat. 1496
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as "Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal Act of 2012" (H.R. 6156) by Dave Camp (R-MI) on July 19, 2012
  • Committee consideration by House Ways and Means
  • Passed the House on November 16, 2012 (365–43)
  • Passed the Senate on December 6, 2012 (92–4)
  • Signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012

The Magnitsky Act, formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama in November–December 2012, intending to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009.

Background[edit]

In 2009, Russian lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating fraud involving Russian tax officials. While in prison, Magnitsky developed gall stones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis and was refused medical treatment for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, he was beaten to death while in custody.[1][2][not in citation given]

Law[edit]

In June 2012, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs reported to the House a bill called the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4405).[3] The main intention of the law was to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system.[4] The legislation was taken up by a Senate panel the next week, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin, and cited in a broader review of the mounting tensions in the international relationship.[5][6]

In November 2012, provisions of the Magnitsky bill were attached to a House bill (H.R. 6156) normalizing trade with Russia (i.e. repealing the Jackson–Vanik amendment) and Moldova.[7] On December 6, 2012, the U.S. Senate passed the House version of the law.[4] The law was signed by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012.[8][9][10][11][12]

Individuals affected[edit]

The Obama administration made public a list of 18 individuals affected by the Act in April 2013.[13][14][15] The people included on the list are:

  • Artyom Kuznetsov, a tax investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Pavel Karpov, a senior investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Oleg F. Silchenko, a senior investigator for the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Olga Stepanova, head of Moscow Tax Office No. 28
  • Yelena Stashina, Tverskoy District Court judge who prolonged Magnitsky's detention
  • Andrey Pechegin, deputy head of the investigation supervision division of the general prosecutor's office
  • Aleksey Droganov
  • Yelena Khimina
  • Dmitriy Komnov
  • Aleksey Krivoruchko, Tverskoy District Court judge
  • Oleg Logunov
  • Sergei G. Podoprigorov, Tverskoy District Court judge
  • Ivan Pavlovitch Prokopenko
  • Dmitri M. Tolchinskiy
  • Svetlana Ukhnalyova
  • Natalya V. Vinogradova
  • Kazbek Dukuzov, Chechen acquitted of the murder of Paul Klebnikov
  • Lecha Bogatyrov, implicated by Austrian authorities as the murderer of Umar Israilov

The Magnitsky Act with connection to money given by Russia government to about 10,000 Russian human right abusers was addressed on Fareed Zakaria GPS by CNN [16]

Russian government reaction[edit]

In response to the adoption of the Magnitsky Act, the Russian government denied Americans adoption of Russian children, issued a list of US officials prohibited from entering Russia, and posthumously convicted Magnitsky as guilty.[17] In addition, the Russian government reportedly lobbied against the legislation acting through a public relations company led by Kenneth Duberstein.[18][19]

Ban on U.S. adoption of Russian children[edit]

On December 19, 2012, the State Duma voted 400 to 4 to ban the international adoption of Russian children into the United States. The bill was unofficially named after Dmitri Yakovlev (Chase Harrison), a Russian toddler who died in 2008 of heat stroke after neglect from his adoptive American father.[20][21] Other recent developments include the proposition of a law to prevent US citizens from working with political NGOs in Russia and a proposition of a law, recently abandoned, preventing any foreigner from speaking on state television if they discredited the state.[22]

Banning some U.S. officials from Russia[edit]

On April 13, 2013, Russia released a list naming 18 Americans banned from entering the Russian Federation over their alleged human rights violations, as a direct response to the Magnitsky list.[23] The people banned from Russia are listed below:

US officials involved in legalizing torture and indefinite detention of prisoners:

The Russian lawmakers also banned several U.S. officials involved in the prosecution and trial of Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout and drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko, both serving prison time in the United States:[24][25]

  • Jed Rakoff, Senior US District Judge for the Southern District of New York
  • Preet Bharara, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • Michael J. Garcia, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • Brendan R. McGuire, Assistant US Attorney
  • Anjan S. Sahni, Assistant US Attorney
  • Christian R. Everdell, Assistant US Attorney
  • Jenna Minicucci Dabbs, Assistant US Attorney
  • Christopher L. Lavigne, Assistant US Attorney
  • Michael Max Rosensaft, Assistant US Attorney
  • Louis J. Milione, Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Sam Gaye, Senior Special Agent, US DEA
  • Robert F. Zachariasiewicz, Special Agent, US DEA
  • Derek S. Odney, Special Agent, US DEA
  • Gregory A. Coleman, Special Agent, US Federal Bureau of Investigation[23]

Trump campaign–Russian meeting[edit]

In June 2016, Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, set up a meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. to discuss the embargoed adoption of Russian children to the US as a response to the implementation of the Magnitsky Act. Emails came to light in July 2017 which indicated that Trump Jr. expected the meeting to be about the transfer of damaging information against Hillary Clinton. The emergence of the emails set off a major controversy. [26]

Reception[edit]

Australian expatriate jurist Geoffrey Robertson, who is representing some of the Magnitsky campaigners, has described the Act as "one of the most important new developments in human rights". He says it provides "a way of getting at the Auschwitz train drivers, the apparatchiks, the people who make a little bit of money from human rights abuses and generally keep under the radar".[27]

State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fedorov argued that the real purpose of the Magnitsky bill was to manipulate key figures in big business and government, with the aim of pro-American policy in the Russian Federation.[28]

The Ministry of Internal Affairs Directorate for Special Affairs in the U.K. stated that it is aware of those on the list. The U.K. bans travel of those on the list under existing legislation which prohibits entry for those implicated in cases of human rights violations.[29]

The World Socialist Web Site condemned the United States for only invoking human rights as a cover for realpolitik, stating that Washington had supported "far greater crimes, [such] as when Boris Yeltsin in 1993 ordered bombardment of the Russian White House, the seat of the country’s parliament, killing over 1,000 people".[30]

In March 2015, the parliament of Canada passed an initial motion towards passing such a law.[31]

January 2017 blacklisting[edit]

On January 9, 2017, under the Magnitsky Act, the United States Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control updated its Specially Designated Nationals List and blacklisted Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, Andrei K. Lugovoi, Dmitri V. Kovtun, Stanislav Gordievsky, and Gennady Plaksin, which froze any of their assets held by American financial institutions or transactions with those institutions and banned their travelling to the United States.[32][33]

Implementation oversight in 2017[edit]

The Washington Post published an opinion piece on February 9, 2017, arguing that Congress should preserve the act.[34] President Donald Trump gave a memorandum to Congress on the implementation of the act on April 21, 2017.[35]

In May 2017 US authorities came to an agreement with Prevezon, one of the companies used for laundering the money exfiltrated from Russia as result of the fraud discovered by Sergey Magnitsky, based on which the real-estate company agreed to pay $5.8 million fine.[36][37]

Also in May 2017 an investigation was started on £6.6m that was allegedly transferred from the fraud scheme into a banking firm in the UK.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Q&A: The Magnitsky affair". BBC News. 2012-12-07. Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  2. ^ "Russia puts dead lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on trial". Perth Now. 2012-12-27. Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  3. ^ ""Russia Human Rights Legislation Passes Foreign Affairs Committee" [committee press release]. June 07, 2012. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  4. ^ a b Kathy Lally; Will Englund (December 6, 2012). "Russia fumes as U.S. Senate passes Magnitsky law aimed at human rights". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Baker, Peter, "Syria Crisis and Putin’s Return Chill U.S. Ties With Russia", The New York Times, June 13, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
  6. ^ Belton, Catherine (2012-06-26). "‘Magnitsky law’ makes progress in Senate". Ft.com. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  7. ^ Jeremy W. Peters (November 16, 2012). "House Passes Russia Trade Bill With Eye on Rights Abuses". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 6156". Whitehouse.gov. 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  9. ^ Andrey Fedyashin (December 15, 2012). "Russia-US: Normalization fraught with conflictill". The Moscow Times. The Voice of Russia. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Obama signs Magnitsky Act linked with Jackson–Vanik Amendment termination". Interfax. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Obama Signs Magnitsky Bill". Reuters. The Moscow Times. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Obama signs Russia rights law despite Putin fury". AFP. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  13. ^ "Magnitsky Sanctions Listings". US Department of the Treasury. April 12, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Factbox: Who's who on the U.S. Magnitsky list". Yahoo News. Reuters. April 12, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Magnitsky List release: severe blow on Moscow-US ties". Voice of Russia. 12 April 2013. 
  16. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEStb5DedNA
  17. ^ "Dead Russian lawyer Magnitsky found guilty". AP. Archived from the original on 14 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  18. ^ Adam Kredo (2012-07-19). "Bank of Putin. Goldman Sachs lobbying against human rights legislation". Freebeacon.com. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  19. ^ Unlawful Arrest by Vladimir Abarinov
  20. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (2012-12-19). "Russia Vote Favors Ban on Adoptions by Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  21. ^ Tom Jackman, Toddler’s tragic death in Herndon, in overheated car, continues as political issue in Russia four years later. Washington Post, 12/12/2012
  22. ^ J.Y. (2013-01-30). "Russian politics: The Kremlin's new Anti-Americanism". The Economist. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  23. ^ a b RT News (2013-04-13). "Russia strikes back with Magnitsky list response". RT News. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  24. ^ Englund, Will (April 13, 2013). "Russia retaliates against U.S., bans American officials". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  25. ^ Loiko, Sergei L. (April 13, 2013). "18 Americans barred from Russia in tit-for-tat sanctions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  26. ^ U.S. investigation Retieved July 14, 2017
  27. ^ 'International human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson speaks on fate of Assange', Australian Human Rights Commission, 2012-12-18 
  28. ^ Yevgeny Fedorov: Magnitsky Act – manipulation // RUSSIA.RU
  29. ^ "Will Britain sing America's anti-Russian tunes?". Pravda.ru. July 7, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Moscow calls Obama's human rights bluff". World Socialist Web Site. International Committee of the Fourth International. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  31. ^ All parties signal support for Magnitsky law to sanction Russian officials” in the Globe and Mail, 2015-03-25.
  32. ^ Landler, Mark (January 9, 2017). "U.S. to Blacklist 5 Russians, a Close Putin Aide Among Them". New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Magnitsky-related Designations; Counter Terrorism Designations 1/9/2017, Office of Foreign Assests Control: Specially Designated Nationals List Update". Office of Foreign Assets Control. United States Treasury. January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Congress must preserve the Magnitsky Act to protect human rights". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Associated Press. February 9, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017. 
  35. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (April 21, 2017). "Trump pledges crackdown on rights abusers in Russia and beyond". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved April 22, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Subscribe to read". www.ft.com. Retrieved 2017-05-13. 
  37. ^ "Son of Senior Russian Government Official to Pay US$5.9 Million to the US Treasury in the First Money Laundering Action Linked to Magnitsky Case : Law and Order in Russia". lawandorderinrussia.org. Retrieved 2017-05-13. 
  38. ^ Vardy, Emma (2017-05-20). "Police probe UK links to Magnitsky money". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 

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