WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and senior Democratic Senator on the U.S. Helsinki Commission, joined with a bipartisan group of more than 15 senators in calling for strong action after the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov Friday in Moscow. The senators introduced a resolution laying out the known facts not only relating to Nemtsov’s work on behalf of freedom and human rights but to the violent deaths suffered by other critics of the Putin regime.
The resolution calls for a swift, transparent investigation of Nemtsov’s murder, and it calls on the Obama administration to take specific steps to bolster American support for Russian activists in the cause of liberty. It calls on the administration to follow Nemtsov’s recommendation to add specific names to the visa ban list provided for under the “Magnitsky Act.” Nemtsov was a strong partner and ally of Senator Cardin as his bill, the groundbreaking Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was becoming U.S. law. The resolution also encourages the administration to send a high-level American delegation to Nemtsov’s funeral and to significantly increase its support for like-minded partners in Russia.
“Boris Nemtsov was the definition of courage. I was honored to know him and bear witness to his defense of his beloved Russia. He stood up for the most basic right of expressing public dissent. His killing is shocking and outrageous to the civilized world but, sadly, not unexpected in Putin’s Russia today.
“At the Helsinki Commission, we rely greatly on the personal testimony of people like Mr. Nemtsov who have direct experience and expertise on their own country’s compliance – and noncompliance — with international human rights commitments. These individuals should be able to speak the truth here, and in their home countries, without fear of violent retribution.”