Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Bill Browder held a press conference on January 23 – the day of mass protests in Russia against the arrest of Alexey Navalny. They discussed the use of Magnitsky Act to sanction key sponsors of Putin’s regime for their persecution of Navalny and anti-Putin regime activists.
Below we present Mr. Khodorkovsky’s opening remarks translated into English.
A dictatorship has finally been established in Russia. Any hint of decorum has been cast aside. The electoral process has become a smokescreen. Putin’s political opponents are not allowed to run in the elections, criminal cases are fabricated against them, and finally, they are poisoned.
At the same time, the main purpose of regime’s holding on to power is the insane pilfering and the desire to avoid accountability for the crimes committed.
At the same time the propaganda mechanisms have been exhausted. The regime openly resorts to violence.
The situation with Navalny has exposed these changes. Today society has demonstrated its readiness to confront the usurper and the leader of a gang of thieves: in the freezing winter weather, in scores of Russian cities people came out to protest, facing draconian fines, police brutality and prison terms.
This is taking place against the background of Putin’s people are investing huge sums of money in the West to ensure the life of luxury for themselves and their families. This money goes not only to buy luxuries but to finance political corruption, threats and even murders.
The regime using these traditional methods to guarantee international support for itself. Its figure heads position themselves as the respected “last stronghold of conservatism”. Yet this is no conservatism, but the usual well-known mafia. They are not venerable conservatives, but ordinary thugs, clinging to what they have stolen.
Most people in the West do not want dirty money and ask what they can do.
The only mechanism the West can use to influence the regime are sanctions. Personal sanctions that target specific people and can curb the influence of Putin, his friends and the regime’s sponsors.
Sanctions should target the perpetrators of illegal orders and political repression. That includes judges, security officials, prosecutors, intelligence services.
Together with the sponsors and asset holders of Putin’s inner circle. The sanctions’ aim are people and businesses who directly violate, sponsor or facilitate the spread of corruption, disinformation, illegal influence in the West, and promote human rights abuses in Russia.
These individuals must lose the ability to enjoy the benefits of a Western democratic society and export dirty money and dirty corrupt practices to the West.
We expect the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on Monday to stop doing the Kremlin’s bidding and pass a resolution on Navalny, as proposed by its Human Rights Committee.
I also think that the Magnitsky Act is a proven tool to push back against Russian human rights abusers. Without any doubt, the Magnitsky Act should be extended to include the people involved in persecuting, poisoning and arresting Alexei Navalny.
It is not a question of new laws, but of enforcing what has been passed. About exposing those who oppose justice.
I personally and our Dossier Project collaborate with the media and provide the information we have on Putin’s cronies, their wallets and their corrupt influence in the west.
I am happy to work with Bill Browder, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kara-Murza and others who care, to pursue these goals.