понедельник, 12 марта 2012 г.

Remove Russia from Jackson-Vanik!

Removal of Russia from the provisions of the Cold War era Jackson-Vanik Amendment has long been an issue of  political debate. Although the outdated nature and irrelevance of the amendment is widely recognized, some  politicians in the United States argue that the removal of Russia from Jackson-Vanik would help no one but the current Russian undemocratic political regime.
That assumption is flat wrong. Although there are obvious problems with democracy and human rights in modern Russia, the persistence on the books  of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment does not help to solve them at all. Moreover, it brings direct harm. It limits Russia’s competitiveness  in  international markets for higher value-added products, leaving Russia trapped in  its current petro-state model of development and preventing it from transforming into a modern, diversified and more hi-tech economy.
This helps Mr Putin and his cronies, who continue to benefit from control over raw materials exports and who have no real interest in diversifying Russia’s economy. During the period of their rule,  dependence on oil and gas exports has become even greater  than before. Needless to say,   hanging in a petro-state limbo prevents the emergence in Russia of an independent and advanced middle class, which should be the main source of demand for pro-democracy political transformation in the future. More and more talented and creative Russians are leaving the country because there are better opportunities for finding  good jobs in hi-tech industries abroad.
At the end of the day, those who defend the argument that Jackson-Vanik’s provisions should still apply  to Russia in order to punish Putin’s anti-democratic regime only darken Russia’s political future, hamper its economic development, and frustrate its democratic aspirations.
Jackson-Vanik is also a very  useful tool for Mr Putin’s anti-American propaganda machine: it helps him to depict the United States as  hostile to Russia, using outdated cold-war tools to undermine Russia’s international competitiveness.
We, leading  figures of the Russian political opposition, strongly stand behind efforts to  remove Russian from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Jackson-Vanik is not helpful in any way -- neither for promotion of human rights and democracy in Russia, nor for the economic interests of its people. Sanctions which harm the interests of ordinary Russians are unhelpful and counter-productive – much more effective are targeted sanctions against specific officials involved in human rights abuse, like those named in the Senator Benjamin Cardin’s list in the Sergey Magnitsky case (Senate Bill 1039).
It is time to remove Russia from Jackson-Vanik!

Sergey Aleksashenko
Political Council member, People’s Freedom Party (Parnas)

Alexander Lebedev
Independent businessman and politician

Vladimir Milov
Leader, “Democratic Choice” movement

Alexey Navalny
Attorney and civil activist

Boris Nemtsov
Co-chairman, People’s Freedom Party (Parnas), "Solidarity” movement

Ilya Ponomarev
State Duma member, Just Russia Party

Vladimir Ryzhkov
Co-chairman, People’s Freedom Party (Parnas)

(Published on behalf of and under authorization from the named signatories.)