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U.S. Magnitsky Bill Confuses Russia's Weakness for Strength

Daragh McDowell Monday, April 30, 2012

As U.S. President Barack Obama vies for a second term in office and Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin struggles to reassert his authority at the outset of his third, the so-called Magnitsky bill currently under debate in the U.S. Congress could define U.S.-Russia relations for the next decade.

Simply put, if and when the Magnitsky bill passes, Obama will have to sign it. To do otherwise would be electoral suicide. Similarly, Putin and the Russian elite will have to respond in kind. To do otherwise risks their continued authority, which for many members of the Russian elite could amount to actual suicide. So before either the White House or the Kremlin has a chance to negotiate the contours of their relationship in the 21st century, a major roadblock will have been placed in the way of positive collaboration, just as the 2006 assassination in London of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko put U.K.-Russia relations into a deep freeze for the past five years. ...

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