One of the principal challenges for U.S. policy toward Russia is the desire to balance the promotion of human rights with other American interests, such as security and trade. Advancing these pragmatic interests is often assumed to require shelving human rights issues. This problem is at the center of the so-called Magnitsky Act, which will come before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later this month. This bill, however, takes a misguided approach to striking this balance, addressing an individual case rather than underlying problems, and creating confrontation where none need exist.
The act seeks to punish those Russian officials responsible for the horrific abuses that led to the 2009 death of the tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose treatment by Russian authorities appears blatantly criminal and morally shocking. After uncovering massive tax fraud carried out by a criminal conspiracy including high-ranking officials throughout the Russian government, Magnitsky was himself arrested on charges of tax fraud and, while held in pretrial detention, tortured and denied medical care for almost a year until his eventual death of heart failure at age 37. Despite detailed investigations that appear to conclusively demonstrate Magnitsky’s innocence and the brutality of the crimes committed against him, no Russian officials have been charged in the case. The desire to punish the perpetrators of Magnitsky’s abuse is understandable. Unfortunately, there are several problems with the way the Magnitsky Act pursues this goal. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $18 monthly or $118/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Strategic Horizons: In Ukraine, Russia Reveals Its Mastery of Unrestricted Warfare
- Global Insights: Modernization Leaves Russia’s Military Improved but Limited
- The Realist Prism: U.S. Unwilling to Give or Take on Ukraine
- Crimea Highlights Risks, Uncertainties of Georgia’s Turn to West
- The Realist Prism: Crimea Crisis Puts the Lie to America’s Long-Term Planning