9:03 AM, Dec 14, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Now is the time to undermine Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. With major protests going on in response to the recent fraudulent parliamentary elections, with Mikhail Prokhorov announcing that he is likely to challenge Putin for the presidency in the next election, and with major ferment in Russia, it is the best time to further undermine Putin’s control structure by holding human rights violators accountable. And there are several efforts underway to do just that in Congress.
Consider the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011, which is a “bill [that] would impose sanctions and visa bans on the individuals named as complicit” in human rights violations, as Julia Pettengill recently reported. The bill has widespread—and real!—bipartisan support in Congress, along with a deep popularity among those in Russian opposition and civil society.
The other day, as Jen Rubin reported, “a group of human rights activists sent an open letter” the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee’s European Affairs Subcommittee. Here’s their explanation for the Magnitsky Act:
That was written by Lyudmila Mikhailovna Alekseeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lev Aleksandrovich Ponomarev of the Human Rights Group, Vladimir Bukovsky of the CATO Institute, Katrina Lantos Swett of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institute, and David Kramer of Freedom House. The group call attention to the wider problem of human rights abuses:
A hearing will be held today on Capitol Hill featuring David Kramer of Freedom House, Ed Verona of USRBC, and Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch.