Russian Opposition Presses U.S. to End Trade Restrictions

By Herszenhorn, David M | International Herald Tribune, March 13, 2012 | Go to article overview

Russian Opposition Presses U.S. to End Trade Restrictions


Herszenhorn, David M, International Herald Tribune


Organizers of the anti-government demonstrations in Moscow urged the U.S. Congress to end Cold War-era trade restrictions against Russia, saying that leaving them in place would only help Vladimir V. Putin.

Prominent organizers of the anti-government demonstrations in Moscow urged the U.S. Congress on Monday to end Cold War-era trade restrictions against Russia, saying that leaving them in place would only help President-elect Vladimir V. Putin.

The statement by the opposition organizations seemed intended to bolster an effort by the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders to establish permanent normal trade relations before Russia's formal entry into the World Trade Organization this year.

The administration has said that American businesses will suffer if the trade restrictions, known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, are not lifted. But it is also anticipating opposition based on the argument that normalizing relations with Russia would be a mistake, given concerns over human rights and democracy under Mr. Putin, as well as Russia's veto of a U.N. Nations Security Council resolution calling for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to step down over his brutal crackdown on dissent.

The statement seemed tied to a hearing on the Russia trade issue that is scheduled for Thursday in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

"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," the opposition organizers wrote. "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."

Signing the statement were some of the leading voices of the opposition movement: the anti-corruption advocate Aleksei Navalny; leaders of the People's Freedom Party, Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Ryzhkov and Sergey Aleksashenko; a former deputy energy minister, Vladimir Milov; and a member of Parliament from the Just Russia party, Ilya Ponomarev. …

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