William Browder: Magnitsky begins to act around the world

The United States expanded the “Magnitsky Act”, and Estonia became the first country in the EU that have adopted the act, similar to the us

MOSCOW – the U.S. Senate on December 8 was supported by “Global Magnitsky Act”, which was earlier supported by the House of representatives. Currently, the law sent for signature to President Barack Obama.

The law, previously designed to be used against those whom the US believes responsible for the death in custody of Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, has now been “Global Magnitsky Act” creates consequences for the corrupt officials and violators of human rights in any country around the world, depriving them of the right to enter the United States and access to American financial institutions.

The initiators of adoption of law became senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain, and congressmen Chris Smith and Jim McGovern. The document was supported by representatives of both parties, Republicans and Democrats.

On the same day in Estonia, the Parliament unanimously adopted a law introducing restrictions on entry into the country for persons in respect of whom “there is evidence or reasonable grounds to believe that the person was involved or contributed to the violation of human rights in the foreign country, causing death, serious bodily injury, unreasonable conviction in a criminal case for political reasons or other serious consequence.”

The President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid signed it into law on December 9, conference on human rights in Tallinn, saying: “When drafting the law takes into account the recommendations of the European Parliament and the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE to establish a visa ban for those convicted in the death of Sergei Magnitsky and violations of human rights that is possible in the future to apply to other similar cases”.

The reaction in Moscow

Officials in Russia nervously reacted to the adoption by Congress of the “Global Magnitsky Act”.

In particular, the Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov announced on us lawmakers the Agency “Interfax” in the strongest possible terms, bordering on being rude: “If leaving the Washington get-together in the face of the current surviving the last weeks of the composition of Congress and the current administration has aimed to spoil relations not only with Russia but also with the world – it’s her choice. We can only regret that, using the “Magnitsky act” as a “polygon” as the “battering RAM” to destroy the Foundation of relations with Russia, the United States now the same thing, the same failure and unacceptable methods are trying to use in relations with other States”.

Ryabkov added that “the so-called globalization of sanctions laws of the United States, including the notorious “Magnitsky act” – is now the challenge for the international community.”

It is worth noting that the “global Magnitsky Act” similar to the one adopted in the USA, now consider parliamentarians of Canada.

The head of Hermitage Capital William Browder, who was the initiator of the adoption of the “Magnitsky Act” in the United States and for many years led the international campaign “Justice for Sergei Magnitsky”, in an interview with the Russian service “voice of America” said that he was inspired by the anti-corruption laws on both sides of the Atlantic, which are designed to punish violators of human rights.

Danila Galperovich: What are the practical consequences of the adoption of the “Global Magnitsky Act” in the US?

William Browder: the Most important is the consistency of such a step, because why have a law specific to Russia, if there are terrible atrocities in countries such as Iran, Venezuela, Syria? So the idea that the violators of human rights who were in a better position than other offenders, in the end still got punished, were in the same sanctions list. What is important from the point of view of the campaign “Justice for Sergei Magnitsky”, so it is the fact that these laws – his legacy: his sacrifice, his death was not meaningless, at least it led to what will be punished many bad people in the world, and perhaps it will even save lives, because some people do not want to commit atrocities, knowing that they’ll be consequences.

D. G.: And the adoption of the law Estonia, also inspired by the struggle of Sergei Magnitsky, a corruption – how it is important for you?

U. B.: Estonia is a very important example, because it is the first European country that has enacted its own “Magnitsky Act”. We expect a “Domino effect”: someone had to take this step first, and when one state did it, others becomes, in the sense of morality and logic, it is much harder to take such measures. A big win would be to achieve measures that would be adopted by the European Union, on which we now also work, but the fact that Estonia is gone, actually breaks a certain barrier, and you can move on.

D. G.: In Moscow on the adoption of the “Global Magnitsky Act” responded a nervous review Deputy foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in charge of contacts with the United States. Why do you think Russian officials are so irritated comment on this act?

U. B.: In the days of my great-grandfather (great-grandfather of William Browder, Earl Browder, was the leader of the Communist party USA in the 1930-1940-ies – DG) was Comintern – the Communist international. Now I would say that Russia is trying to develop, “Leptinotarsa”, kleptocratic international. Making such statements and trying to deal with the “Magnitsky laws”, the representatives of the Putin regime is trying to protect the rights of kleptocrats around the world.

D. G.: In what stage is your campaign in Europe?

U. B.: We’re on this topic will soon make some announcements while we prepare, but we can say that some shifts occur at the level of the European Union. Also there is an initiative in the UK, which is called “Magnitsky Amendment”, it would add to the Law on criminal remedies (Criminal Finances Bill) which, if adopted, will allow the government and private companies through the courts to freeze assets of human rights violators from other countries in the United Kingdom. And this is very important for the country in which many estates and villas purchased by such human rights violators.

D. G.: the Current Russian leadership has shown its complete rejection of the demands of the justice for Sergei Magnitsky – is it encouraged those deemed responsible for the death of a lawyer, tried him posthumously. You have hope that someday in Russia, the justice for Magnitsky will prevail?

U. B.: I am one hundred percent sure that justice will be restored in Russia in the future, when Putin’s regime will go as a result of elections, fall or be offset more honest regime. This is the obvious next step, and this is one of the first steps of the next mode, one of the first things he wants to fix it.