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Magnitsky-style law will Aim Russian, Venezuelan human-rights abusers: Origin

19 Oct 17
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Russian and Venezuelan human-rights abusers are predicted to be among the first group of people targeted by Canadian authorities sanctions in the coming weeks under a new Magnitsky-style law.

Canada became the fourth state to embrace a Magnitsky law on Wednesday when Bill S-226 received royal assent. The law is named after Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, who accused Russian officials of a enormous tax-fraud regime before being beaten to death in a Moscow prison in 2009, and is supposed to sanction human-rights abusers around the world.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail, a Canadian government official said Russian and Venezuelan human-rights abusers are expected to be one of those sanctioned by the law within the coming weeks. While the official wouldn’t say who the sanctions will specifically aim, they said Canada will consult with the United States’ law, which has sanctioned 44 people since 2012. Britain and Estonia also have passed Magnitsky-style sanctions.

U.S.-born financier and anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder, who has led the worldwide effort to sanction human-rights abusers globally in memory of Mr. Magnitsky, stated he would like to see Mr. Magnitsky’s killers named from the first round of Canadian sanctions.

“We have been in contact with the authorities in parallel into the legislative process, providing evidence and information about those men and women that were responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s killing. We are hoping that it occurs relatively soon,” he said.

Mr. Browder hired Mr. Magnitsky as the attorney for his Moscow-based Hermitage Capital Management hedge fund in 2005. Mr. Magnitsky was detained in 2008 and died in prison in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of thieving. Tests by Russia’s human-rights council finally concluded that he was beaten to death by prison employees.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the Russian embassy in Ottawa said “Russophobes” could rejoice that Parliament had accepted Bill S-226, “causing irreparable harm” to Russia-Canada relations. Earlier this month, Russia made its retaliation strategy apparent.

“We warn that in the event the pressure of the sanctions put us raises … we will expand likewise the record of Canadian officials prohibited from entering Russia,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an Interfax news agency report on Oct. 4.

Numerous Canadian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, were prohibited from entering Russia in 2014 after Canada sanctioned members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s circle over the annexation of Crimea.

Over the coming weeks, Global Affairs Canada will work with Treasury Board to establish a list of people to be sanctioned under the Magnitsky law. Although it’s anticipated that Russian and Venezuelan human-rights abusers will be one of the first people concentrated, the Canadian government official said the law could eventually be used against people in Myanmar. The Liberal government has repeatedly demanded that Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s military end the violence that has displaced over 580,000 Rohingya Muslims over the previous eight weeks.

Marcus Kolga, a human-rights activist and Russian foreign-policy specialist who helped Mr. Browder with his advocacy efforts in Canada, said he and Mr. Browder are attempting attract Mr. Magnitsky’s wife, Natasha, son, Nikita, and mom, Natalya, to Canada shortly to meet the parliamentarians who made Bill S-226 possible. They’re also hoping the Magnitsky family can meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ms. Freeland, whose Liberal government publicly supported the Magnitsky legislation.

“It’s essential that the Magnitskys connect with this piece of legislation and have the ability to thank the men and women who made it happen, since the law offers them a little, but significant bit of justice,” Mr. Kolga stated.

“Let’s not forget that his son, Nikita, has grown up with a dad … I anticipate a very emotional visit.”

The Magnitsky family has applied for visas to go to Canada as soon as possible; Natasha and Nikita live in London while Natalya still resides in Moscow.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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