Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Why is Obama protecting Putin´s criminal cronies?

Why is the Obama administration trying to protect gang of Putin loyalists who are complicit in the murder of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky? Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov points out that Ronald Reagan understood that appeasing dictators never works for long:
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the "Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act," named after an anti-corruption lawyer who died in 2009 after a year in Russian jails.
Despite bipartisan support in Congress, the measure's future prospects remain uncertain, in part because the Obama administration is unenthusiastic about it.
Immediately prior to the G-20 summit, top Russian officials announced that Mr. Putin's highest priority in meeting Mr. Obama would be the Magnitsky Act, a piece of pending U.S. legislation that would apply travel and financial sanctions against Russian functionaries complicit in the 2009 torture and murder of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Critically, the act can also be extended to those who commit similar crimes.

This was a startling admission for the Putin regime to make. I have long promoted the idea of going after the money and travel privileges of the Kremlin loyalists who keep Mr. Putin's criminal regime operational. The surprise was his in effect confessing how afraid of the act he is. He clearly felt it necessary to publicly reassure his rank and file that he would fight to protect their ill-gotten wealth and lifestyles.
Mr. Putin's May 7 inauguration was followed by crackdowns against the pro-democracy movement, including raids on the homes of opposition leaders and their families and a massive raise in the fines and jail sentences for participating in demonstrations. While more than a dozen protesters are already behind bars, the raids and arrests continue. As ever, the application of the law is focused on punishing opposition activities that are supposed to be protected by the Russian constitution. The police and judiciary understand that by protecting Mr. Putin's power, they gain ultimate immunity.
The Magnitsky Act would shake the foundation of Mr. Putin's power base. It is less clear why the Obama administration has worked so hard to bury it. Abroad, Mr. Putin's Russia continues to sell arms to the Assad dictatorship in Syria and generally do everything possible to keep the Middle East at a boil—the better to keep oil prices high.

In March, President Obama was overheard telling Mr. Medvedev he would have "more flexibility" to address Russian interests after his re-election. Yet Mr. Obama looks all too flexible already. Negotiating on trade or missile defense is all well and good, but when you put moral values on the table with a dictatorship you lose every time.

America should be siding with the Russian people, not with Mr. Putin. Russia is not America's foe. We have much in common—struggles with radical Islam, concerns about Chinese influence and expansionism, real shared strategic interests. Mr. Putin's Russia, on the other hand, is concerned only with power and the oil and gas profits needed to maintain it. Yes, a free Russia will compete with the U.S., but it will not be an unwavering adversary.

Ronald Reagan understood history and its lesson that appeasing dictators never works for long. By passing the Magnitsky Act, which was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the United States will be supporting the Russian people, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and protecting its own long-term interests. Being "flexible" on these issues will only prove the old saying that by standing for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Read the entire article here

The latest episode of the "Russian Untouchables":

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