International Committee: Response to the Magnitsky and Yakovlev Acts

Our Russian sister party, Yabloko, today has joined a march against the Dima Yakovlev Bill, an appalling policy recently signed by President Vladimir Putin banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American citizens – a direct response to the Magnitsky Act.

Today’s march against the “Anti-Magnitsky” Act through the streets of Moscow
Today’s march against the “Anti-Magnitsky” Act through the streets of Moscow

The Magnitsky Act is a bipartisan motion passed by the US Congress in December 2012 aiming to penalise the human rights abuse by Russian executive members suspected of being responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was detained after revealing multiple cases of tax fraud by Russian officials but died in a Moscow prison 7 days before the end of the one year period in which he could legally be held without trial. It was alleged that numerous officers of Russia’s Ministry for Interior were responsible for torturing him and not doing enough to prevent his death, therefore the Magnitsky Act sets out laws excluding access to its borders and use of its banking system to Russian bureaucrats who were suspected of being responsible for these atrocious actions.

The Russian government were clearly embarrassed when they heard of President Obama signing such a politically damaging act, highlighting the clear violation of human rights and in turn the many other cases which are too often overlooked by foreign governments – however Putin’s response cannot be justified. Over 700,000 orphans live in Russia, a higher population than any other country in the world and this figure is persistently growing on a yearly basis. Studies have consistently established that living standards and life prospects are significantly higher for orphans growing up in the USA than those in Russia where post-17 40% become involved in crime, 35% remain unemployed and even 10% commit suicide. What’s more, Americans have adopted more than 60,000 Russian orphans over the past 20 years and by-and-large these children are now succeeding in their education, work and society in general, as well those with disabilities who receive a greater standard of care than that which is available in Russia. Putin should be doing everything he can to support these vulnerable young people, instead he has chosen to sign a form of “Anti-Magnitsky Act” that will do nothing but hinder those who are in need the most help.

Liberal Youth unequivocally condemns the Dima Yakovlev Act and welcomes the demonstrations against it, particularly by our sister party Yabloko whose members have made the case against the bill on many occasions in the short period between it being introduced in the National Duma and it being signed into law. The Magnitsky Act can be credited for standing up to countries that are not doing enough to prevent the abuse of human rights yet America’s record on human rights in recent times is hardly desirable. Liberal Youth supports the implementation and calls for the UK introduce a similar law of its own.


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