By Vladislav Naganov
The nervous reaction of Russian regime to the “Magnitsky List” reaffirms the imperative for its implementation at the earliest opportunity. In fact, we are now witnessing attempts by reactionaries to convert the state prerogatives of Russian sovereignty into a particular type of diplomatic “immunity” that would provide an effective cover allowing the most nefarious outlaws, corrupt officials and thieves to carry on perpetrating their crimes with impunity.
At issue, in particular, is the introduction of visa restrictions affecting persons suspected of culpability in the death of the legal expert, Sergei Magnitsky, and the embezzlement of 5.4 billion roubles from the Russian [sovereign state] budget. Hundreds of pages have already been written about these brazen crimes and every possible kind of evidence [link here] published online; only the lazy remain oblivious to the substance of the case.
On 16 November 2009, the USA’s Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe [CSCE, also known as The Helsinki Commission – Translator’s Note], published on its website a ‘black list’ of persons implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky while in custody. The Commission’s Co-Chairman, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, petitioned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to impose visa restrictions on all the individuals identified on that ‘black list’, as well as on their family members. The list comprised sixty names.
Furthermore, on 16 December 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to prohibit entry into European Union states for those Russian officials who were parties to the Sergei Magnitsky case. In addition to a ban on EU entry, the European Parliament proposed that European law enforcement agencies freeze those assets of Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case that exist within the borders of the EU member states.
Additionally, and this is what is particularly interesting, by introducing on 27 July 2011 visa restrictions applicable not even to all, but only some of the principal figures of this same ‘black list’, the US State Department was merely attempting to head off the enactment by Congress of a piece of legislation introduced by Senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain for consideration by American lawmakers, back in May 2011. This bill envisioned far more harsh restrictions and penalties against an unspecified, potentially unlimited, number of Russian officials. In particular, it not only precludes allowing entry to individuals named on the ‘black list’ into the US, but also requires their accounts in US banks to be frozen – as well as the expansion of the ‘black list’ in response to other egregious instances of the violation of the rights and freedoms of human beings and of citizens, within Russia. Without question, the enactment of this legislation by the United States would be far more helpful than the restrictions placed on an abbreviated version of the ‘Magnitsky List’ – yet in and of itself that much has already become an irritant for the highest-ranking rulers of Russia.
Now, however, even the time for the adoption of the more comprehensive bill of sanctions looms ominously on the horizon. Unsurprisingly, on the heels of the G20 summit, Putin has been having conniptions, and is already promising, in response to visa restrictions on US entry for Russian citizens, to introduce ‘corresponding and reciprocal’ restrictions on entry into Russia for ‘any number n of Americans.’
Meanwhile, legislation has already been introduced to the Russian State Duma that sets forth reciprocal action to be triggered in answer to US sanctions. United Russia Party member A. Klimov, First Deputy Chairman of the Duma International Relations Committee, announced that this statutory document would allow the Government to consider reactive measures that might be used to respond to actions taken by foreign officials who limit ‘the legitimate rights of Russian citizens abroad.’ In his own words, according to this draft legislation, a ban on entry into Russia might be imposed upon a number of high-ranking US officials.
The Deputy Chief of the Russian Federation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry [‘MID’], S. Ryabkov, further added that Moscow’s reaction to such ‘an outrage’ would be ‘systematic, manifold and extremely harsh.’ He is of the opinion that for the time being it would be premature to speak of any concrete steps to be taken, as it is necessary first to see how the situation develops. Ryabkov expressed the hope that ‘the worst would not transpire.’
Is that quite clear? They are of the view that the worst that could happen would be for someone beyond the borders of Russia (in the USA and EU) to decide, finally, to call to account Russia’s rapaciously corrupt officialdom, its thieves and murderers (seeing as it would not be realistic for that to happen in Russia, where all the courts have been fully subjugated by them for quite some time now). These criminal elements have stashed away in Western banks, in accounts worth tens and hundred of millions of dollars, assets looted by them from Russia; their progeny and kin are legal holders & owners of all kinds of property, not to mention super-premium real estate in some of the most prized locations of the UK, France, Cyprus… Their luxury yachts crisscross the Mediterranean, their Bentleys and Maybachs cruise around all of the European Union, while their high-spirited brats in their Lamborghinis and Ferraris organise impromptu races in Switzerland [add link]. These hypocrites sport dazzling watches worth hundreds of thousands of dollars while making patriotic televised speeches about Russia and its confident, steady progress…
There isn’t a single rational Russian citizen today who does not know about the monstrous scale of rampant corruption, about the profound and pervasive rot that has corroded a governing apparatus mired in arbitrary bureaucratic tyranny and an all-encompassing, boundless lack of accountability. After all, is there anyone out there who is not au courant about this [add link], for instance? I know of no one who is not convinced that officials on the public payroll, of practically any rank at all, are shamelessly stealing left and right, just as far as they are able to reach (and the rare exceptions only prove the rule). In the whole world, as much as in Russia, public opinion undoubtedly supports any measures that could be taken within the context of the urgent need to pull up short and hold accountable the rapacious, insatiably scheming and thieving scum who are willing even to kill innocent people who get in the way of their uninhibited and unchecked looting of the country. That is why foreigners are especially amazed by the fact that the present rulers of the Russian Federation with unenviable constancy always insist on taking the side of the brazen scum whom the entire world sees for the flagrant criminals they are, effectively supplying them with Russia’s sovereign services – for a price.
We all know that Russia’s court system has degenerated internally over many long years of unnatural selection. Independent courts simply do not exist in Russia; they have become interwoven in symbiosis with the prosecutorial service and overall are nothing more than tiny gears in the fatally corroded mechanism of the apparatus of the state. And how could anyone contemplate, under such conditions, even to consider making the argument out loud, with any level of seriousness, that, you know, seeing as our courts have not seen fit to take any action to condemn these criminals, and there has not even been an indictment handed down against them, then no one has any right to accuse this rapacious criminal syndicate of anything because they are themselves personally convinced that they exist and operate wholly above & beyond the reach of any laws? Our courts have no compunction about dismissing charges against the children of ranking officials when they run their hearses over pedestrians; they impose 150 000 rouble fines on the accomplices hiding the men who in 2010 committed the notorious massacre of innocents in Kushchovskaya!.. It is moreover the accepted norm here to exculpate and free bloodthirsty killers, avowed gangsters and mercenary ‘warriors.’ To take someone to court today amounts to a personal insult. The state of things as they are long ago exceeded the parameters of any mere ‘Magnitsky List.’ We have enough of these cases on the record now to fill an entire encyclopaedia. And ultimately, after all, some precedent-setting case must acquire the prominent status that will enable Justice to triumph, at least on the international level – seeing as for the time being, while United Russia and Putin are in charge of our country, we are not yet ourselves in a position to enforce the rule of law.
Unfortunately, as things stand in our country today, we cannot count on the punishment of any high-ranking criminals whatsoever within our own territory. And that means that we should be overjoyed to see anyone at all, elsewhere, holding them to account – at least abroad. Someone, at least, is showing them that they are not any kind of high-and-mighty lords and masters of anyone’s destiny, but simply common thugs, scum, who ought not to defile with their presence the sovereign territory of the EU, USA, Arab Emirates or any other countries. The billions in assets they have already exported out of Russia, together with any other property they have acquired with misappropriated funds, should of course all be frozen and confiscated. All those villas and yachts, Bentleys and Maybachs, Swiss and Cypriot accounts and offshore holdings – absolutely everything, without exception! The problem, I repeat, greatly exceeds the scope of the ‘Magnitsky List,’ strictly speaking.
And it is precisely this fact that generates the chilling wave of savage, unaccountable horror that is engulfing the ruling circles of the RF. They are prepared to rush to the defence of the filthiest creatures and perverted ‘traitorous werewolves’ of the internal police services – just to prevent the introduction of any kind of mechanism for individualized, name-specific visa restrictions or other sanctions that could with time become applicable to any of them, as well.
That is the true reason, I believe, for the Foreign Affair Ministry’s defiant announcement: “The Russian side will not leave unanswered such inimical measures and will take appropriate steps to defend the sovereignty of our country and to safeguard the rights of Russian citizens from the overreaching, legally unwarranted actions of foreign sovereign states.”
Whereas I, as a citizen of Russia, do not consider the introduction of any kinds of sanctions or restrictions whatsoever against any Russian criminals abroad to be any kind of measure inimical to Russia. Quite the contrary: this is a friendly action with respect to Russia and its people, within the context of a time when the punishment of high-ranking criminals inside the borders of our own country has become an utter impossibility under the sitting authorities, because the security services and criminal justice system of the country became, some time ago, first and foremost, a tool for the suppression of public consciousness and social identity, and in the last extreme, of criminal syndicates themselves. And for this reason we must welcome all friendly actions on the part of any foreign sovereign states that serve to make the life of Russian criminals abroad in any way more difficult at least when they are outside Russia.
And finally, this rises to the level of a matter of principle, and one that is of signal importance per se: what we are witnessing amounts to an abuse of the sovereignty of the Russian state by turning it to the advantage and effectively into an accomplice of thugs and miscreants of all types, as I asserted at the outset of this article. Those who furnish such valuable services, seemingly as it were in some kind of open marketplace, ought to know that, as a general rule, sovereignty is firstly defined as the sovereignty of a nation, of a people – rather than as the sovereignty of a set of government offices. By definition, it is the people who have sovereignty and are the source of a duly vested government’s sovereign powers. And that means that it is for us to decide which specific actions by our government harm our sovereignty – and which do not. We must not permit anyone to identify and equate the sovereignty of our state as a member of the community of nations with the immunity from prosecution or accountability of the worst lawless elements of society. We do not work and pay taxes in our own country to listen to the vile speeches of pathetic worms, who in our name publicly defend, for all the world to hear, the most abominable, unforgivable outlaws, ruthless predators, thieves and murderers who have shown themselves rotten to the core and unremitting in their assault on decent human society.