Streetwise Professor

June 27, 2012

We Must Be Doing Something Right

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 6:55 pm

Russia is outraged-outraged!-that a US Senate committee had the temerity to pass the Magnitsky Act:

Moscow expressed outrage on Wednesday over a U.S. Senate panel’s approval of a bill that would penalize Russian officials for human rights abuses, and warned Washington that adoption of the sanctions would force Russia to respond in kind.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act,” named after a Russian anti-corruption lawyer whose death in 2009 while in pre-trial detention drew widespread condemnation.

Despite broad support in Congress, the bill’s future remains uncertain, partly because the Obama administration is unenthusiastic about a measure that Russia says would be an unwarranted intrusion into its internal affairs.

“The effect on our relations will be extremely negative,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by state news agency Itar-Tass as saying.

“We are not only deeply sorry but outraged that – despite common sense and all signals Moscow has sent and keeps sending about the counterproductive nature of such steps – work on the ‘Magnitsky law’ continues.”

This issue was supposedly at the top of Putin’s agenda for his meeting with Obama in Cabos, and in his pre-election foreign policy manifesto he listed it as one of his major priorities.  This is obviously a very, very big deal with Russia generally, and Putin in particular.

Which speaks volumes.  The real outrage here is Magnitsky’s death, and the official response thereto.  Said response runs the gamut from neglect to indifference to cover-up, despite burgeoning evidence that high level FSB officials were directly involved in a massive tax fraud that Magnitsky uncovered, and that he was killed because of his insistence on pursuing those who committed this crime.  For all of Putin’s strutting about the need to serve the state, the state above all, here is a flagrant example of the alleged “servants” of the state using their power to defraud it, and to kill anyone with the audacity to attempt to stop them.

But rather than come down on the perpetrators, the Russian state is doing nothing.  Indeed, its inaction is best explained as a way of protecting those perpetrators.  Draw your own conclusions from that.

Focusing on those who are enabling this gross miscarriage of justice, as the Magnitsky Act does, is the right way to go about bringing attention to the most-what is the word?-yes, outrageous example of the official criminality that is embedded deep in the tissues of Russia and the Russian government.

If Putin were truly serious about dramatically improving Russia’s reputation as a place to do business, there would be no better way than to make an example of those officials who used their power to defraud a foreign investor and the Russian government, killed the  man who attempt to fight this crime, and also to punish those in power who are to this day protecting the perpetrators-and continuing to torture Magnitsky’s family with Kafkaesque legal proceedings.

But Putin does exactly the opposite.  He rages at a US initiative that does what Putin should be doing if he were actually serious about fighting corruption and official crime in Russia.  That reaction says very clearly that the Magnitsky Act is exactly the right thing to do.

Putin’s hatred of the Magnitsky Act says all you really need to know about the credibility of his fine words about improving the business and legal environment in Russia.  Meaning they are not credible in the least.

The progress of the Magnitsky Act is not the only thing that is stoking Russian paranoia and rage.  Yesterday the US successfully destroyed a separating, medium range ballistic missile with a Standard 3 Block 1B missile.  This was the second consecutive successful test of the Raytheon system against a realistic target.

Not that this system poses a real threat to Russia’s strategic forces, even from bases in Romania.  But regardless, the Russians react with unreasoning hostility to America missile defenses, and every step towards their successful introduction induces paranoid fury in Russia.  This test is just such a step.

So how’s the reset going, Bam?

Just asking.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. what happened here from last few month ……
    i think here also be use a new act like as agitation by people which is currently going on in India….
    because this is matter not solve by this two country member….
    so…. think ….

    Comment by john gray — June 27, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

  2. Magnitsky Act serves the interests of russian people as it weakens the putinoids. Thanks to the US Senate committee.

    Comment by a.russian — June 27, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

  3. […] – Welcoming the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. […]

    Pingback by FT Alphaville » Further reading — June 28, 2012 @ 1:13 am

  4. For all of Putin’s strutting about the need to serve the state, the state above all, here is a flagrant example of the alleged “servants” of the state using their power to defraud it
    Huh? Prof, these people *are* the state. They are completely in line with Putin’s “strutting” as long as they don’t take above their station (“не по чину берешь” is the key Russian phrase I believe). Activities you label as “defrauding” are core state business. Some other people, like the late Magnitsky, happen to have different ideas of what the state should be and what it should do, pointing out that state activities run contrary to Russian law. Similarly, Soviet-era dissidents used to point out that state activities run contrary to USSR’s Constitution, of which the 5th article was the only one of any real practical importance. This position is admirable in some respects — adherents usually know that this “law” to the letter of which they appeal is not really law as Westerners understand the term, but nevertheless insist on the state treating its “law” as real law — but it is not a popular or broadly understood position in Russia. By their insistence, they hope to advance their position inside Russia and to enlist Western opinion to bring pressure to bear from outside Russia, but only in very special circumstances do they enjoy a measure of success.

    Comment by Candide III — June 28, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  5. I think this is noteworthy to consider:

    Comment by MJ — June 28, 2012 @ 10:39 am

  6. Oh, MJ, fondly do We hope, fervently do We pray, that this mighty scourge of Putin might pass speedily away!

    Alas, Putin has not lost a war, and nor are there “Khleba net” signs on the bakeries. In fact, Russians are living a distressingly long time, and having distressingly many children, so much so that even the Moscow Times, usually such a reliable critic of Our rebellious servant Vladimir and all his nefarious works, has an article today on how “kiddie things” is one of the fastest growing segment of the Russian retail market!

    So We fear that Our assiduous servant Ariel Cohen is merely trying to keep Our hopes up!

    Comment by a — June 28, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  7. But what a wonderfull and smart guy you are… and what about your style… and, yes, unquestionably, you are the best village idiot…

    Comment by MJ — June 28, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

  8. Iterating upon Putine regime ‘s success – fleeing in terror away from our own country!

    Who could have imagined two decades ago that Russians would be leaving their country in search of social justice and security? Yet, this is what Andrei and Nadezhda hope to find in Canada.

    “We want our children to have good education, good jobs and social security; we want them to live in a country governed by law and caring for its citizens,” says Nadezhda. But it could take several more years for that dream to take shape as emigration to Canada involves a long and cumbersome process.

    Comment by Oleg — June 30, 2012 @ 5:16 am

  9. How can the Putin-mafias propagandists stop this ? Nabucco-West Selected For Caspian Gas Delivery To Central Europe .

    The Need a new war in Georgia ?
    The Russian Oil and Gas mafia have go in to Georgia and make a shithous operation and stop this pipeline .
    Planting some Al-Qaida groups in Georgia should make it a good war for the mafia .

    Why Was Khizri Aldamov “Returned” To Chechnya?

    It came as a complete surprise when Chechen TV, on the evening of June 13, broadcast a meeting between Ramzan Kadyrov and Khizri Aldamov – The targets of this information warfare are not so much the citizens of Georgia but Western countries. Russia’s use of a long forgotten figure testifies to the crisis in Moscow’s thinking in this field and its limited ability to counter Georgian soft power in the North Caucasus.

    –Mairbek Vatchagaev

    Comment by Oleg — June 30, 2012 @ 5:36 am

  10. It’s really sad to see Russia relive its failed past all over again. One has the sense that the people of Russia lag behind the civilized world in intelligence. How else to explain Russians embracing a KGB regime after seeing the KGB murder millions of their fellow citizens and drive their state, the USSR, into oblivion? But Putin’s raids on the homes of opposition figures and the imprisonment and murder of figures like Magnitsky, Khodorkovsky, Politkovskaya and so many others clearly shows that Russians are prepared once again to turn a blind eye to the barbarism of their state in the hopes of personal gain, just as they did in Soviet times. Once the world thought that Russians were the innocent victims of their government, but that was a very naive and foolish error. In fact, Russians are deeply complicit in the evil their government does, from the murder of Georgians to the murder of Galina Starovoitova. They either stand silent as their neighbors are hauled away or they whisper into the KGB’s ear about them or they cheer loudly while it happens. And those few who dare to buck the trend are packed off the gulag with the rest.

    Comment by La Russophobe — June 30, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  11. I think that there is some kind of shared belief in Russia that the state _owns_ its citizens in some sense. Some kind of weird concept of sovereignty. Whatever happens here it’s only Russian authorities should be able to deal with it, regardless of gravity of the situation. If you talk with people you will see signs of this belief, especially if you talk with older/traditionalists/”patriots”.

    So my view is that it’s not a cover for the ones responsible for Magnitsky case. The underlying reason is this belief and quite a lot of people either directly support Russian response or they support the logic behind it.

    Comment by kosmik — June 30, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  12. Russian citizens, it appears, are more inclined to agree with Kasyanov than with those in the Kremlin who claim to speak on their behalf. According to this week’s poll by the Levada Center, those in favor of Western visa sanctions for Russian human rights abusers outnumber those against by 36 percent to 18 (45 percent have no firm opinion—not surprising, given that 44 percent of respondents have never heard of Magnitsky, a result of the Kremlin’s control over the national media). Meanwhile, in July—even before the US Congress completes passage of the Magnitsky bill—the European Parliament will begin work on its own legislation. As emphasized by Kristiina Ojuland, the Parliament’s special rapporteur on the Magnitsky case, who was also in Washington this week, the European Union and the United States must act in close cooperation. After all, they are both interested in future strategic partnership with a democratic Russia.

    Comment by Oleg — June 30, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

  13. “How can the Putin-mafias propagandists stop this ? Nabucco-West Selected For Caspian Gas Delivery To Central Europe.”

    Oh, what wonderful news! All that remains is for the Azeries to invest $15 billion in Turkey and Our rebellious servant Vladimir is surely doomed!

    Comment by a — July 1, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  14. […] tensions between the White House and the Kremlin are being reported. Supposedly the bill is at the top of Putin’s agenda in his meeting with Obama in Cabos. It has wide support in Congress, but as the American federal executive branch leads foreign […]

    Pingback by Inside Out | Our World Collective — July 1, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

  15. The KGB-mafias servil servant Vladimir are now trying to get help from Little Satan – Putin Offered to Broker Israel’s Ties with Iran and Turkey – While Not Losing Sight of Oil

    On the other hand, by making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the central problem of the Middle East, the Soviets could exploit Arab nationalism, anti-Semitism, and even Islamic religious feelings to mobilize support for their policies. Indeed, under the banner of Arab solidarity, the socialist influence in the region grew far beyond the socialist regimes and parties.

    The code-name for this operation against Israel, according to Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking defector from the Soviet Bloc, was “SIG”—Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or “Zionist Governments.” In a National Review article, Pacepa recalls a conversation he had with KGB chairman Yuri Andropov, who envisioned fomenting “a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world. … We had only to keep repeating our themes—that the United States and Israel were ‘fascist, imperial-Zionist countries’ bankrolled by rich Jews.”

    Our only condition is that Gazprom (the Russian energy giant) finance the development of those fields and be awarded the concession for laying the pipelines carrying the gas and oil to Europe.
    “Don’t wait for the American, British or Dutch oil majors to come to you,” he said. “They are too heavily invested in Arab oil. We don’t have that problem.”

    Comment by Oleg — July 2, 2012 @ 7:46 am


    Comment by ALLA WAGNER — July 3, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

  17. August is starting early this year in Russia.

    Comment by Ivan — July 8, 2012 @ 9:05 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress