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Press Gaggle Following Testimony on the State of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Russia

Press Availability
Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Following Testimony before the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
December 14, 2011


Question: Mr. Gordon, some experts argue that after last weekend’s protest in Russia the country would never return back to the status quo in terms of human rights and democracy. What do you think of that?

Assistant Secretary Gordon: We’ve been very clear about the perceived irregularities in the vote and Secretary Clinton expressed our serious concerns about what took place -- non-registration of parties and allegations of ballot stuffing. So no doubt there were serious problems with the election but I wouldn’t write off democracy in Russia based on this election. The fact that Russia allowed OSCE observers in the first place was a good thing. President Medvedev has said there should be a full investigation of allegations. Foreign Minister Lavrov has talked about following up on the OSCE. The Russian government allowed for demonstrations, in some ways in an unprecedented way.

So yes, there were serious problems and we have serious concerns, but I think that there is still very much reason to believe that Russia will move in the direction of more democracy.

Question: Many U.S. politicians and analysts argue that the Magnitskiy list should be expanded and have the full right to replace the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. What is your take on that?

Assistant Secretary Gordon: We have made clear and the Secretary has explained that it is the policy of the United States not to give visas to anybody who was involved in the death of Sergey Magnitskiy. We have authorities in the Immigration and Nationalization Act, President Obama’s proclamation last August was clear that we won’t give visas to people who commit grave violations of human rights.

I would separate all of that from the Jackson-Vanik question. We simply believe that Jackson-Vanik is anachronistic, outdated, and not in the interest of U.S. business or in relations with Russia.

Question: Thank you very much.

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