Russian Democracy Act of 2002

Russian Democracy Act of 2002

Hon.
Christopher H. Smith
United States
House of Representatives
107th Congress Congress
Second Session Session
Monday, October 07, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendments to the bill (H.R. 2121) to make available funds under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to expand democracy, good governance, and anti-corruption programs in the Russian Federation in order to promote and strengthen democratic government and civil society in that country and to support independent media.

 

The Clerk read as follows:

 

Senate amendments:

 

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert:

 

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

 

This Act may be cited as the ``Russian Democracy Act of 2002''.

 

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

 

(a) FINDINGS.--Congress makes the following findings:

 

(1) Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the leadership of the Russian Federation has publicly committed itself to building--

 

(A) a society with democratic political institutions and practices, the observance of universally recognized standards of human rights, and religious and press freedom; and

 

(B) a market economy based on internationally accepted principles of transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.

 

(2) In order to facilitate this transition, the international community has provided multilateral and bilateral technical assistance, and the United States' contribution to these efforts has played an important role in developing new institutions built on democratic and liberal economic foundations and the rule of law.

 

(3)(A) Since 1992, United States Government democratic reform programs and public diplomacy programs, including training, and small grants have provided access to and training in the use of the Internet, brought nearly 40,000 Russian citizens to the United States, and have led to the establishment of more than 65,000 nongovernmental organizations, thousands of independent local media outlets, despite governmental opposition, and numerous political parties.

 

(B) These efforts contributed to the substantially free and fair Russian parliamentary elections in 1995 and 1999.

 

(4) The United States has assisted Russian efforts to replace its centrally planned, state-controlled economy with a market economy and helped create institutions and infrastructure for a market economy. Approximately two-thirds of the Russian Federation's gross domestic product is now generated by the private sector, and the United States recognized Russia as a market economy on June 7, 2002.

 

(5)(A) The United States has fostered grassroots entrepreneurship in the Russian Federation by focusing United States economic assistance on small- and medium-sized businesses and by providing training, consulting services, and small loans to more than 250,000 Russian entrepreneurs.

 

(B) There are now more than 900,000 small businesses in the Russian Federation, producing 12 to 15 percent, depending on the estimate, of the gross domestic product of the Russian Federation.

 

(C) United States-funded programs have contributed to fighting corruption and financial crime, such as money laundering, by helping to--

 

(i) establish a commercial legal infrastructure;

 

(ii) develop an independent judiciary;

 

(iii) support the drafting of a new criminal code, civil code, and bankruptcy law;

 

(iv) develop a legal and regulatory framework for the Russian Federation's equivalent of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission; (v) support Russian law schools; (vi) create legal aid clinics; and (vii) bolster law-related activities of nongovernmental organizations.

 

(6) Because the capability of Russian democratic forces and the civil society to organize and defend democratic gains without international support is uncertain, and because the gradual integration of the Russian Federation into the global order of free-market, democratic nations would enhance Russian cooperation with the United States on a wide range of political, economic, and security issues, the success of democracy in Russia is in the national security interest of the United States, and the United States Government should develop a far-reaching and flexible strategy aimed at strengthening Russian society's support for democracy and a market economy, particularly by enhancing Russian democratic institutions and education, promoting the rule of law, and supporting Russia's independent media.

 

(7) Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Russian Federation has stood with the United States and the rest of the civilized world in the struggle against terrorism and has cooperated in the war in Afghanistan by sharing intelligence and through other means.

 

(8) United States-Russia relations have improved, leading to a successful summit between President Bush and President Putin in May 2002, resulting in a ``Foundation for Cooperation''.

 

(b) PURPOSES.--The purposes of this Act are--

 

(1) to strengthen and advance institutions of democratic government and of free and independent media, and to sustain the development of an independent civil society in the Russian Federation based on religious and ethnic tolerance, internationally recognized human rights, and an internationally recognized rule of law; and

 

(2) to focus United States foreign assistance programs on using local expertise and to give local organizations a greater role in designing and implementing such programs, while maintaining appropriate oversight and monitoring.

 

SEC. 3. UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.

 

(a) SENSE OF CONGRESS.--It is the sense of Congress that the United States Government should--

 

(1) recognize that a democratic and economically stable Russian Federation is inherently less confrontational and destabilizing in its foreign policy and therefore that the promotion of democracy in Russia is in the national security interests of the United States; and

 

(2) continue and increase assistance to the democratic forces in the Russian Federation, including the independent media, regional administrations, democratic political parties, and nongovernmental organizations.

 

(b) STATEMENT OF POLICY.--It shall be the policy of the United States--

 

(1) to facilitate Russia's integration into the Western community of nations, including supporting the establishment of a stable democracy and a market economy within the framework of the rule of law and respect for individual rights, including Russia's membership in the appropriate international institutions;

 

(2) to engage the Government of the Russian Federation and Russian society in order to strengthen democratic reform and institutions, and to promote transparency and good governance in all aspects of society, including fair and honest business practices, accessible and open legal systems, freedom of religion, and respect for human rights;

 

(3) to advance a dialogue among United States Government officials, private sector individuals, and representatives of the Government of the Russian Federation regarding Russia's integration into the Western community of nations;

 

(4) to encourage United States Government officials and private sector individuals to meet regularly with democratic activists, human rights activists, representatives of the independent media, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, civic organizers, church officials, and reform-minded politicians from Moscow and all other regions of the Russian Federation;

 

(5) to incorporate democratic reforms, the promotion of independent media, and economic reforms in a broader United States dialogue with the Government of the Russian Federation;

 

(6) to encourage the Government of the Russian Federation to address, in a cooperative and transparent manner consistent with internationally recognized and accepted principles, cross-border issues, including the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, environmental degradation, crime, trafficking, and corruption;

 

(7) to consult with the Government of the Russian Federation and the Russian Parliament on the adoption of economic and social reforms necessary to sustain Russian economic growth and to ensure Russia's transition to a fully functioning market economy and membership in the World Trade Organization;

 

(8) to persuade the Government of the Russian Federation to honor its commitments made to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the November 1999 Istanbul Conference, and to conduct a genuine good neighbor policy toward the other independent states of the former Soviet Union in the spirit of internationally accepted principles of regional cooperation; and

 

(9) to encourage the G-8 partners and international financial institutions, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to develop financial safeguards and transparency practices in lending to the Russian Federation.

 

SEC. 4. AMENDMENTS TO THE FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961.

 

(a) IN GENERAL.--

 

(1) DEMOCRACY AND RULE OF LAW.--Section 498(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2295(2)) is amended--

 

(A) in the paragraph heading, by striking ``DEMOCRACY'' and inserting ``DEMOCRACY AND RULE OF LAW'';

 

(B) by striking subparagraphs (E) and (G);

 

(C) by redesignating subparagraph (F) as subparagraph (I);

 

(D) by inserting after subparagraph (D) the following:

 

``(E) development and support of grass-roots and nongovernmental organizations promoting democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability in the political process, including grants in small amounts to such organizations;

 

'`(F) international exchanges and other forms of public diplomacy to promote greater understanding on how democracy, the public policy process, market institutions, and an independent judiciary function in Western societies;

 

``(G) political parties and coalitions committed to promoting democracy, human rights, and economic reforms;

 

``(H) support for civic organizations committed to promoting human rights;''; and

 

(E) by adding at the end the following:

 

``(J) strengthened administration of justice through programs and activities carried out in accordance with section 498B(e), including-- ``(i) support for nongovernmental organizations, civic organizations, and political parties that favor a strong and independent judiciary; ``(ii) support for local organizations that work with judges and law enforcement officials in efforts to achieve a reduction in the number of pretrial detainees; and ``(iii) support for the creation of legal associations or groups that provide training in human rights and advocacy, public education with respect to human rights-related laws and proposed legislation, and legal assistance to persons subject to improper government interference.''.

 

(2) INDEPENDENT MEDIA.--Section 498 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2295) is amended--

 

(A) by redesignating paragraphs (3) through (13) as paragraphs (4) through (14), respectively; and

 

(B) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:

 

``(3) INDEPENDENT MEDIA.--Developing free and independent media, including--

 

``(A) supporting all forms of independent media reporting, including print, radio, and television;

 

``(B) providing special support for, and unrestricted public access to, nongovernmental Internet-based sources of information, dissemination and reporting, including providing technical and other support for web radio services, providing computers and other necessary resources for Internet connectivity and training new Internet users in nongovernmental civic organizations on methods and uses of Internet-based media; and

 

``(C) training in journalism, including investigative journalism techniques that educate the public on the costs of corruption and act as a deterrent against corrupt officials.''.

 

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.--Section 498B(e) of such Act is amended by striking ``paragraph (2)(G)'' and inserting ``paragraph (2)(J)''.

 

SEC. 5. ACTIVITIES TO SUPPORT THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.

 

(a) ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS.--In providing assistance to the Russian Federation under chapter 11 of part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2295 et seq.), the President is authorized to-- (1) work with the Government of the Russian Federation, the Duma, and representatives of the Russian Federation judiciary to help implement a revised and improved code of criminal procedure and other laws; (2) establish civic education programs relating to democracy, public policy, the rule of law, and the importance of independent media, including the establishment of ``American Centers'' and public policy schools at Russian universities and encourage cooperative programs with universities in the United States to offer courses through Internet-based off-site learning centers at Russian universities; and (3) support the Regional Initiatives (RI) program, which provides targeted assistance in those regions of the Russian Federation that have demonstrated a commitment to reform, democracy, and the rule of law, and which promotes the concept of such programs as a model for all regions of the Russian Federation.

 

(b) RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY AND VOICE OF AMERICA.--RFE/RL, Incorporated, and the Voice of America should use new and innovative techniques, in cooperation with local independent media sources and using local languages as appropriate and as possible, to disseminate throughout the Russian Federation information relating to democracy, free-market economics, the rule of law, and human rights.

 

SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF ASSISTANCE FOR DEMOCRACY, INDEPENDENT MEDIA, AND THE RULE OF LAW.

 

Of the amounts made available to carry out the provision of chapter 11 of part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2295 et seq.) and the FREEDOM Support Act for fiscal year 2003, $50,000,000 is authorized to be available for the activities authorized by paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 498 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended by section 4(a) of this Act.

 

SEC. 7. PRESERVING THE ARCHIVES OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER ANDREI SAKHAROV. (a) AUTHORIZATION.--The President is authorized, on such terms and conditions as the President determines to be appropriate, to make a grant to Brandeis University for an endowment for the Andrei Sakharov Archives and Human Rights Center for the purpose of collecting and preserving documents related to the life of Andrei Sakharov and the administration of such Center. (b) FUNDING.--There is authorized to be appropriated to the President to carry out subsection (a) not more than $1,500,000.

 

SEC. 8. EXTENSION OF LAW.

 

The provisions of section 108(c) of H.R. 3427, as enacted by section 1000(a)(7) of Public Law 106-113, shall apply to United States contributions for fiscal year 2003 to the organization described in section 108(c) of H.R. 3427.

 

Amend the title so as to read: ``An Act to make available funds under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to expand democracy, good governance, and anti-corruption programs in the Russian Federation in order to promote and strengthen democratic government and civil society and independent media in that country.''.

 

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Watson) each will control 20 minutes.

 

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).

 

GENERAL LEAVE

 

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on the bill under consideration.

 

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

 

There was no objection.

 

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

 

This bill, the Russian Democracy Act, ensures that American assistance will continue to be available to help strengthen and consolidate democracy in the Russian Federation. While this seems to be a routine measure, we should take a few minutes to note what this bill represents. The mere fact that we can talk of democracy in Russia as a reality in the present and not some dim prospect in the hazy future is one of the many wonders of the past decade that have grown familiar and now is largely taken for granted. Its existence, however, is a testament to the deep commitment to fundamental values shared by peoples all over the world.

 

Mr. Speaker, this bill before us represents an important part of the effort to continue that democratization. It focuses our attention and assistance on many of the prerequisites of a free and a prosperous society, including the creation of a resilient civil society, the strengthening of an independent press, and the establishment of the rule of law.

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    Reports from nearly every corner of the OSCE region suggest that minority groups and vulnerable populations have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and sometimes by the policies enacted by governments to address it. This extended episode of "Helsinki on the Hill" takes an in-depth look at the pandemic’s impact on minority groups and vulnerable populations, and the role of governments in addressing that impact. Margaret Huang, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Karen Taylor, chair of the European Network Against Racism, share insight about the reality on the ground for minority communities, including African Americans, who are suffering disproportionately from both the pandemic and systemic discrimination.   Lamberto Zannier, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, joins the discussion to offer recommendations on meeting the needs of national minorities and marginalized communities in the new world of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Helsinki on the Hill" is series of conversations hosted by the U.S. Helsinki Commission on human rights and comprehensive security in Europe and beyond. The Helsinki Commission, formally known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, promotes human rights, military security, and economic cooperation in 57 countries in Europe, Eurasia, and North America. Transcript | Episode 11 | Communities at Risk: The Impact of COVID-19 on the OSCE’s Most Vulnerable Populations

  • Podcast: Massive, Systematic, Proven beyond Doubt

    President Alexander Lukashenko has been in power in Belarus since 1994. In the run-up to elections in the summer of 2020, the Lukashenko regime sought to eliminate political competition to  through disqualification, intimidation, and imprisonment.   Election Day proper featured widespread allegations of fraud.  Many countries, including the United States, rejected the election’s outcome as illegitimate and refused to recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate leader of Belarus.  The months since the election have seen an unrelenting crackdown by Belarusian authorities on peaceful protests, civil society, and the media. As a participating State in the OSCE, Belarus is party to a number of commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the right to free and fair elections and the right to peaceful assembly.  In response to the apparent violation of these rights, 17 other OSCE states invoked one of the key human rights tools at their disposal: the Moscow Mechanism, a procedure that allows for the establishment of a short-term fact-finding mission tasked with producing a report on a specific human rights concern and recommendations on how to resolve it. In this episode, Professor Wolfgang Benedek, the rapporteur appointed to investigate the crisis in Belarus, discusses his findings that human rights abuses are "massive and systematic, and proven beyond doubt" and his recommendations to address the violations. "Helsinki on the Hill" is series of conversations hosted by the U.S. Helsinki Commission on human rights and comprehensive security in Europe and beyond. The Helsinki Commission, formally known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, promotes human rights, military security, and economic cooperation in 57 countries in Europe, Eurasia, and North America. Transcript | Episode 14 | Massive, Systematic, Proven beyond Doubt: Human Rights Violations in Belarus Exposed by the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism

  • Podcast: Open Skies

    What was a Russian military plane doing taking pictures over Washington, DC? Arms control experts Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, and Anthony Wier, Legislative Secretary for Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, discuss the Treaty on Open Skies. The Open Skies agreement fosters inter-military transparency and cooperation among 34 different countries—including the United States and Russia—by allowing participants to overfly each other’s territory to record and share imagery of military and other installations. During the episode, Bell and Weir outline the role of Open Skies in the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, the treaty’s benefits, the complexity of execution, and current challenges in implementation. "Helsinki on the Hill" is series of conversations hosted by the U.S. Helsinki Commission on human rights and comprehensive security in Europe and beyond. The Helsinki Commission, formally known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, promotes human rights, military security, and economic cooperation in 57 countries in Europe, Eurasia, and North America. Transcript | Episode 4: Open Skies | Helsinki on the Hill

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