Dana Rohrabacher blocks human rights bill in US Congress

May 5, 2016


Representative Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California) is one of a handful of friends the Orbán government has in the United States Congress, but the congressman’s claim to fame is his patently pro-Vladimir Putin agenda.

Most recently, as reported by the National Review Online, Rohrabacher has been obstructing a vote on the Global Magnitsky Act. This is the follow-up bill to another piece of legislation commonly known as the Magnitsky Act of 2012.

The latter Act was adopted in response to the 2009 torture and murder of Russian lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky by Russian authorities for his role in exposing a scandal that implicated the highest echelons of the Putin regime.

The Act was passed thanks in large part to bipartisan support in Congress and the tireless efforts of Hermitage Capital founder Bill Browder. The law banned Russian officials involved in Magnitsky’s death from entering the United States and restricted their access to the US banking system.

In March 2015, the Beacon spoke with Browder about his book recounting the entire affair, “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”.

The 2012 law was lauded as a positive step by human rights organizations but was deemed insufficient for one very important reason: why only apply it to the case of Sergei Magnitsky and Russia?

This prompted Congress to get the ball rolling on yet another law, the Global Magnitsky Act. The global act would essentially extend the same punishment to violators of human rights around the world, not only Russia.

But the Global Magnitsky Act got stuck in committee recently. According to National Review Online, the bill is stuck in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “specious grounds.”

National Review Online says that during a recent trip to Russia Rohrabacher was given a dossier purporting to contain evidence that Russian authorities had nothing whatsoever to do with Magnitsky’s murder. Magnitsky was denied medical treatment for chronic gallstones and beaten to death in his jail cell for refusing to sign a confession implicating himself and Browder for the unlawful refund of tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

The congressman’s spokesperson, Ken Grubbs, says Rohrabacher “came across some information that puts the Magnitsky narrative as we know it into some question, and he wants to pursue it.”

According to National Review Online, the dossier contains information that completely rejects Browder’s account of the Magnitsky case, despite a range of NGOs and foreign governments having investigated the matter and sharing Browder’s conclusion that Russian authorities orchestrated a massive cover-up.

But why would the Russian government want to thwart the adopting of a Global Magnitsky Act?

“In general terms, the Putin regime is terrified of the Magnitsky Act because it threatens the very lifeblood of the regime: their foreign cash,” Browder tells the Beacon. “They have made it a priority to try to repeal it through whatever means are available. Their current strategy has been a global campaign to discredit me and Sergei Magnitsky, which has taken the form of TV shows, billboards, movies and official government reports. For the most part they have failed to convince anyone, but they did have one success with Dana Rorhbacher who is a well-known Putin apologist.”

Browder tells us he has seen Rohrabacher’s dossier.

“It’s a collection of documents from the Russian authorities denouncing me in all sorts of ways that are not credible. The documents have been floating around for years and have been routinely rejected by Interpol, the US government, the British government and many other international organizations.”

According to Browder, the US government has carefully examined the Magnitsky case and is extremely confident about the position it holds.

Browder is confident that the Global Magnitsky Act will be adopted and says all that happened in the House Foreign Relations Committee was that Rohrbacher ambushed the chairman, Ed Royce (a fellow Republican from California), with new information that Royce needs time to refute.