Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, today strengthened his call for consequences for those in Russia who have trampled on fundamental freedoms and human rights. At a hearing of the European Affairs Subcommittee, Senator Cardin laid out his case for the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which he and 25 other senators have sponsored. Not limited to just Russia, the Magnitsky bill would invoke a travel ban against serious violators of human rights, freeze any of their assets held in the U.S. and publish their names — a powerful deterrent for those craving respectability and legitimacy in the West.
“Private and even public expressions of concern must no longer substitute for a real policy – it’s time for consequences. This bipartisan effort sends the unambiguous warning that even if your home country looks the other way as you violate human rights and trample the rule of law, the United States will not stand by as an unwitting accomplice to your crimes. With the full force of the law, we provide more than just moral support to those who suffer or risk their safety to fight for justice. It will also go a long way in protecting American companies active in the Russian market that risk falling prey to raiding schemes and that may fear reprisal for speaking out.
“The coming year promises to be an interesting one for bilateral relations. With the dynamic situation following the Duma elections and Russia likely to be invited to join the World Trade Organization very soon, today’s hearing is a timely discussion. I urge every senator to take the long view and remember our true friends in Russia — in and out of government — and stand with them in the universal cause of liberty and human dignity.”