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REMEMBERING AND HONORING SERGEI MAGNITSKY

  • Representative Steve Cohen
    US
    DC

    Washington









House of Representative

117th Congress, First Session

199

Volume 167 Number 117th

Mr. COHEN. Madam Speaker, today we remember and honor Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian tax lawyer who in 2008 uncovered a massive fraud scheme of hundreds of millions of dollars perpetrated by law enforcement officers. In any normal situation, Mr. Magnitsky would have been praised for his efforts. But this was Putin’s Russia, and he was arrested by the very people whose nefarious dealings he exposed. The conditions Mr. Magnitsky faced in prison for almost a year were inhumane, and on November 16, 2009, already weakened and seriously ill, he did not survive the beatings he received from prison guards.

Twelve years later, Putin still controls Russia. Throughout the country, hundreds of prisoners of conscience languish behind bars because of their political opinions, their activism, and even their religious beliefs.

Thanks to Sergei Magnitsky’s determination to stand up for what is right in the face of overwhelming state power, the laws that bear his name ensure they will not be forgotten. His story is the story of many others–not only in Russia, but worldwide. Exposing human rights abuses and corruption carries many risks in many countries. Yet there are many brave people who continue to reveal the truth.

The Magnitsky Act has become a living memorial to Sergei Magnitsky’s bravery. We in Congress originally passed this legislation to sanction those involved in the death of Mr. Magnitsky. Since then, we have expanded it to cover the world’s worst human rights abusers. What began here has spread internationally as the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada have all adopted their own Magnitsky sanctions. Many others, such as Japan, Australia, and Taiwan, are considering their own legislation.

Magnitsky sanctions have completely changed the nature of the fight for human rights and against corruption. They not only protect our own system against abuse but also provide a measure of justice to those denied it abroad. We will keep encouraging our democratic allies to adopt similar sanctions so that one day there will be no safe haven left for kleptocrats and their blood money.

Finding justice for Sergei Magnitsky in Putin’s Russia seems more impossible with each passing year. However, we have not forgotten his tragic story and we will never stop calling for accountability for those who imprisoned him and ultimately killed him; those who enabled corruption and abetted murder. We are determined to not let his memory fade. Instead, he will serve as an indelible reminder of all those who suffer under corrupt regimes.

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