Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

The Business Climate in Russia and the States of the Former Soviet Union

  • Hon. Alcee L. Hastings
    US












House of Representative

110th Congress, Second Session

Madam Speaker, after the summer recess, the Helsinki Commission, which I chair, was preparing to conduct a hearing on United States and Western businesses at risk entering markets in Russia and the former Soviet Republics without the protections guaranteed by the rule of law and government adherence to market principles. The hearing had to be postponed due to the invasion of Georgia, but it is our intention to take up this issue in the next Congress. 

The Helsinki Commission, and the OSCE, is fully committed to the development of democracy, civil society, the rule of law and free markets in the Russia Federation and in other states of the former Soviet Union. We trust that Russian President Medvedev shares that commitment when he proclaims that “my most important task is to further develop civil and economic freedoms.” 

Yet we see evidence that Russian authorities continue to selectively prosecute and harass human rights advocates, prominent business leaders and journalists by employing arbitrary and extralegal means to achieve state and political ends. This is often accomplished through a manipulated court system, thus denying its citizens and foreign investors the impartial application of the rule of law and equal justice. 

In June, 1992, the United States and Russia negotiated and signed the Bilateral Investment Treaty, which grants investors the protections and safeguards necessary to conduct business in a fair and transparent environment. Unfortunately, Russia has failed to ratify this important measure that would ultimately serve the economic interests of both our nations. 

Along the same lines, it is regrettable that Russia refuses to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty. This measure insures the rights and protections of private and public sector interests against a government taking arbitrary action that would disrupt or threaten global energy security. The thousands of United States investors who became shareholders in the Russian oil company, YUKOS, lost everything when the Russian government seized the company’s assets. 

Finally, Russia has not honored its pledge to amend its federal laws to guarantee protections of intellectual property rights and enforcing such laws consistent with international standards. I would note the frequent Western media reports on cases where Russian authorities have seized the assets of certain companies, many with foreign investors, utilizing executive decrees, court orders, and extradition requests to assume ownership or control over Russian enterprises. Some foreign investors have been compelled to surrender their equity shares in Russian companies without proper due process and compensation only to have Western courts, in a series of cases, issue rulings in favor of such companies. 

Madam Speaker, we appreciate that our economy is truly global and American and Western investments are essential in Russia and throughout Eurasia, given their abundant natural resources, and urge that all countries can mutually commit to an economic relationship that is based on mutual trust, the rule of law and market forces that are free of arbitrary or capricious government activity.

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Press Releases

HEARING – Silenced Dissent: The Plight of Poli...

Jun 13, 2024

Rayburn 2212 Stream live here WASHINGTON—Across the globe, individuals continue to be targeted, arrested, and imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and association. Persecution on political grounds represents a fundamental violation of human rights and democratic principles. Autocrats and dictators’ unjust detention of political prisoners undermines the rule of law, […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Silenced Dissent: The Plight of Political Prisoners ...

Jun 13, 2024

WASHINGTON—Across the globe, individuals continue to be targeted, arrested, and imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and association. Persecution on political grounds represents a fundamental violation of human rights and democratic principles. Autocrats and dictators’ unjust detention of political prisoners undermines the rule of law, stifles free expression, and erodes […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

BRIEFING – The Proliferation of Russian-Style ...

Jun 13, 2024

Thursday, June 20, 2024 2:00 p.m. Cannon House Office Building Room 210 WASHINGTON—In 2012, Russia adopted a foreign agents law which has been used repeatedly to crack down on independent civil society and opposition, closing organizations and jailing dissenters. Over the past several years, there has been a proliferation of Russian-style foreign agents laws in […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission House Leadership Marks Fourth An...

Jun 06, 2024

WASHINGTON—Today, Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) marked the fourth annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month. The U.S. Helsinki Commission has marked Counter-Kleptocracy month since June 2021 when the Commission helped to launch the Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy (Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus). The Caucus is also chaired by Reps. Wilson and […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Supporting Georgia’s Sovereignty and Democracy

Jun 04, 2024

WASHINGTON—The recent adoption of a Russian-style foreign agent law heralds an openly anti-western turn by the ruling Georgian Dream government, and their concomitant alignment with Russia as well as other authoritarian powers such as China. After three decades of a pro-west, democratizing, and Euro-Atlantic-facing strategic agenda, Georgia’s government is clearly and violently breaking faith with […]

screen-reader-text
Briefings

Russian Crimes Against Ukrainian Civilians: Findings...

May 30, 2024

Russia has targeted Ukrainian civilians since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.  Civilians have been arbitrarily detained, transferred, mistreated, tortured, and even killed extrajudicially as an apparent part of Putin’s war strategy.  Thousands have disappeared or are being held without being able to communicate with their families. In February, 45 OSCE states invoked […]

screen-reader-text
Briefings

Ukrainian Culture in Wartime

May 29, 2024

Russia has damaged or destroyed countless Ukrainian museums, libraries, cultural centers, theaters, schools, and sites of religious and historical significance. These physical attacks are accompanied by the Kremlin’s public denigration and even denial of a distinct Ukrainian national identity. This combination of physical destruction and insidious propaganda has by design posed an existential threat to […]

screen-reader-text
In the News

“MEGOBARI Act” Envisages Sanctions for Undermining, ...

May 27, 2024

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Wilson, Cohen, Hudson, Veasey Introduce MEGOBARI Act

May 24, 2024

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, U.S. Helsinki Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Commissioner Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-09), and Commissioner Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33) introduced the bipartisan Mobilizing and Enhancing Georgia’s Options for Building Accountability, Resilience, and Independence (MEGOBARI) Act. This vital legislation aims to bolster democratic practices, human rights, and the rule of […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission House Leadership Statement on 80...

May 24, 2024

  Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) made the following statement: “We unequivocally condemn the brutal deportation of Crimean Tatars orchestrated by the Soviet regime in 1944. This horrific act, which forcibly uprooted an entire population from their homeland, represents a grave violation of human rights, […]

screen-reader-text
In the News

Rep. Joe Wilson introduces bill to sanction individu...

May 23, 2024

screen-reader-text
In the News

US to consider major military, trade package to Geor...

May 20, 2024

screen-reader-text