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23 November, 2012  ▪  The Ukrainian Week

Time for a Tymoshenko-Lutsenko Bill?

US might use the Magnitsky Act to apply sanctions against officials that violate human rights in other countries, including those involved in the persecution of opposition leaders in Ukraine.

On November 16, the US House of Representatives passed the Magnitsky Act entailing sanctions against Russian officials involved in the death of incarcerated Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Senate may vote on it by the end of November, and the President is likely to approve it by the end of the year. The EU is preparing similar sanctions. In July, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed the Magnitsky Resolution calling on European countries to apply sanctions against the respective Russian officials. Thus far, the UK has done so. At the end of October, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging the European Council to apply similar sanctions. At this point, the US and EU sanctions include visa bans and the freezing of bank accounts. Experts project that the US might also use the Magnitsky Act to apply sanctions against officials that violate human rights in other countries, including those involved in the persecution of opposition leaders in Ukraine.

In a recent interview for Deutsche Welle, German MEP Rebecca Harms stated that the EU is seriously contemplating sanctions against certain members of the Ukrainian government following the US model in the case of Magnitsky. However, there is a difference between the current situation in Ukraine and the Magnitsky case in Russia. The Ukrainian officials who were directly involved in the trials against opposition leaders were simply following orders from Ukraine’s top officials, thus the most effective solution entails sanctions against those who ordered the persecution. Otherwise, trials similar to those against Tymoshenko and Lutsenko will persist, as those who follow orders are far more concerned about what may happen to them if they disobey than they are about possible sanctions against them in the EU or the US.

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