Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 04.11.2017
Number 1 on the list of corrupt foreign officials sanctioned by Canada is the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. Good. Now it is time for Canada to sanction the world’s most corrupt foreign official and worst violator of human rights, the President of Russia and invader of Europe in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin. In the name of humanity: stop Putin.
On November 3, Canada brought in regulations under the “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).” These are sanctions imposed on individuals who have committed grave violations of human rights. The sanctions consist of a seizure of assets in Canada, a ban on travel to Canada, and a proscription on doing business with any Canadian citizen or legal entity. Canada’s foreign ministry listed 52 individuals, 30 of whom are Russians. The Russians were involved in the persecution, incarceration, torture, and murder of Sergei Magnitsky – a man who had tried to alert the Russian government to a large scale theft from state funds. In sanctioning these 30 Russians, Canada is harmonizing its regulations with the United States, which has had a Magnitsky law for almost five years.
The most prominent corrupt foreign official named in the Canadian regulations is Dmitry Klyuev. Klyuev is the beneficial owner of Universal Savings Bank and a crime lord who engages in money laundering through London and Cyprus. He may have stolen assets in Canada. Klyuev raided Hermitage Capital, and used the stolen money in a tax fraud amounting to at least $230 million. Hermitage Capital was the investment firm run by Bill Browder, which employed Sergei Magnitsky. Bill Browder has spearheaded efforts to enact Magnitsky law sanctions, and so far he’s been successful in the United States, Britain, Estonia, and Canada. He’s now active to get the European Union to “put its money where its mouth is” on fighting corruption and human rights abuses. Dmitry Klyuev is the mastermind of the massive fraud committed by the Russian crime syndicate, and is the corrupt Russian official most directly responsible for the death in custody of Sergei Magnitsky on 16 November 2009.
Another corrupt official named in the Canadian regulations is Aleksey Anichin, who organized the arrest and detention of Sergei Magnitsky. Anichin persecuted Magnitsky with baseless criminal charges. Victor Grin led the effort to absolve all Russian officials of any wrong-doing in the death of Magnitsky. Alexander Bastrykin is the former Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation. A close confidant of Putin and member of the “siloviki,” Bastrykin has recently made statements that he favours rolling back all civil liberties in Russia, saying that Russia should have tight Internet censorship and eliminate what he calls "fake democracy.”
Klyuev, Anichin, Grin, and Bastrykin are among the 30 Russians sanctioned by Canada. But the corrupt foreign official most responsible for the death in custody of Sergei Magnitsky and for grave violations of human rights is not listed: Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin must be sanctioned by Canada if there is to be justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials.
Canada’s sanctions must be extended beyond the Magnitsky case to embrace the horrific abuse of human rights committed by corrupt officials in the progress of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Particularly in Russia-occupied Ukrainian Crimea and Russia-occupied Ukrainian Donbas, the suffering inflicted is appalling. For example, corrupt Russian officials have sentenced Vlad Ovcharenko to 17 years imprisonment and Artem Akhmerov to 13 years imprisonment for the ‘crime’ of displaying a Ukrainian flag and of burning a flag of the terrorist group, the so-called “LPR.” Ovcharenko and Akhmerov have been harassed, intimidated, arrested, held captive, and tortured just like Sergei Magnitsky was. Every corrupt Russian official involved in this grave violation of human rights must be sanctioned by Canada, up to and including Vladimir Putin. Putin, through his “grey cardinal” Vladimir Surkov, is the boss of Igor Plotnitsky and the effective commander of the terrorist group, the so-called “LPR.”
Canada has shown the way already. Along with the 30 Russians sanctioned on November 3, Canada sanctioned 19 Venezuelans and three South Sudanese. Grave human rights violations are being committed by corrupt foreign officials, and they’re being committed right now in Russia-occupied Crimea and Russia-occupied Donbas on a horrific scale. Canada has the means to act decisively to bring justice to victims. The application of justice must be equitable and fair. By the same measure, if Maduro is sanctioned, Putin must sanctioned. In the name of humanity: stop Putin.