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Western sanctions may be coming soon

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July 12, 2012, 9:51 p.m. | Op-ed — by Ostap Semerak

Ostap Semerak is an opposition lawmaker in Ukraine's parliament
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Ostap Semerak writes: Some of Ukraine's leaders could face visa bans to the U.S. and have their dollar assets frozen.

A former judge transfers a lump sum from one of his hard currency accounts to another. But the money does not get to its destination because it was held due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. authorities.

This seems like a surreal scenario. But it may not be for long. Very soon, such sanctions might become reality for people like the general prosecutor, judges and many others – including “The Family” led by President Viktor Yanukovych and his relatives.

Such punitive sanctions could become a reality after the approval by the U.S. congress of a draft law that envisages visa, financial and property sanctions against abusers of human rights, oppressors of democracy and corrupt officials in various countries.

The law is commonly referred to as the Magnitsky bill. Two of its early versions, which have been debated widely in the world, were approved by foreign affairs committees of both chambers of the Congress.

The difference between the two documents was that the Senate suggested applying the law to Russian officials only, while the House of Representatives wants to make it applicable to the powerful human rights abusers across the world.

After a long debate, they agreed to a compromise: to make it applicable to 56 member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The other novelty of the consolidated draft is that it won’t contain the surnames of people who will face sanctions (the so-called Magnitsky list), but the criteria by which this list is created by U.S. officials.

These criteria are based on observation of human rights, democracy and rule of law, which are the common values for OSCE countries, and which are the basis for the statutory documents of this organization.

A few days ago I had a range of meetings in Washington with a number of politicians who represent the legislative and the executive branches of power in the United States. From what I heard, I came to two conclusions.

Firstly, it seems that the law which has been under debate for such a long time, is about to be approved. It can happen as early as this month.

Secondly, the high officials on the hills of Kyiv and their lesser subordinates can become targets for application of the American sanctions. There are plenty of reasons for doing this. The world has been watching as a group of people establishes an authoritarian regime in Ukraine, twisting the arms of political opponents and brazenly stomping on democratic values, while robbing their own country at the same time.

We have been hearing increasingly louder voices from the international community: presidents and prime ministers, parliament members and the Council of Europe, NATO and OSCE. But it seems that it’s impossible to reason with the Ukrainian authorities, and thus the word “sanctions” has been sounded increasingly more often.

The freshest signal came from the U.S.-based Freedom House. While presenting its report entitled “Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine,” its president, David Kramer,  said that the West is debating sanctions against Ukrainian authorities and that the US will most likely introduce such sanctions so they become an alarm bell for the highest officials in power that the nation is going down the wrong path.

The actual text of the Freedom House report also points out that the words “Ukraine” and “sanctions” sound together more and more often, which reflects the level of disappointment of Western officials with the fact that Yanukovych does not seem to want to hear their arguments.

Freedom House points out that Ukraine has “persecution of the opposition, falsification of elections and pressure on civil society” and warns the Ukrainian authorities about the aforementioned draft law in the American Congress. 

Despite the fact that Freedom House has official status as a non-governmental organization, it has a close relationship with the government, particularly the U.S. State Department.

The NGO status allows it to talk more freely and openly than government officials allow themselves to do. So Yanukovych and his subordinates should be listening to the voice of Freedom House, which might turn out to be the last warning coming from the U.S. government.

If they fail to do so, in not too far a future out officials will have a good chance of joining the ranks of top officials from Belarus, Russian officials from the Magnitsky list, and some Asian dictators.

They will be banned from traveling to USA, from using their bank accounts, villas, companies and other property on the territory of the United States that belongs to them, their relatives or business partners. The money passing though correspondent accounts in US banks will also be frozen.

I have reason to believe that this can become a reality in autumn of this year, possibly immediately after the Oct. 28 parliamentary election. 

It’s worth expecting that the U.S. initiative will soon be supported by the European Union, which basically means isolation from the Western world. Yanukovych would have to comfort himself with the friendship of the Altai shamans and communist friends from China.  

To make the picture complete, one last point needs to be made that was accentuated during the meetings in Washington: the sanctions will not be against Ukraine as a state or against its people, but against certain individuals, such as the father of authoritarianism and lawlessness and their zealous accomplices and executors.

Ostap Semerak is an opposition lawmaker in Ukraine's parliament.

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Joseph Korpsak July 12, 2012, 10:39 p.m.    

Bravo - USA sanctions forthcoming upon Ukraine's regime leaders!!!!!

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Byron Hill July 15, 2012, 11:17 p.m.    

Sounds as if the centuries old practice raping and pillaging Russia and Ukraine's citizens is about to come to an abrupt halt. As history has shown, there is always a martyr that changes the direction of the wind. Kudos to Mr. Sergei Magnitsky, William Browder, Jamison Firestone, and Senator Roger Wicker.

Sergei Magnitsky joins the ranks of a long list of Russian heroes who lost their lives because they stood up for principle and for truth. These ranks include Natalia Estemirova a brave human rights activist shot in the head and chest and stuffed into the trunk of a car, Anna Politkovskaya an intrepid reporter shot while coming home with an arm full of groceries, and too many others.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZB3YoAvEro&feature=plcp&list=PL1F102F26005F7523

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Mykhayl July 13, 2012, 2:08 a.m.    

Слава Ісу!

Like I use to say about Ukrainian sovereignty:
I'll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile the opposition should learn the US motto:
ePluribusUnum

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Frederick Sass July 13, 2012, 3:07 a.m.    

I agree with Mykhayl...I'll believe it when I see it. And. I am not planning on seeing it any time soon.

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elmer-елмер July 13, 2012, 5 p.m.    

Sanctions by US and EU - the sooner the better.

The Party of Regions has already hired several lobbying firms in the US - they will have to spend even more money for lawyers and lobbying firms.

seig heil
der fuhrer fascist yanukonvikt

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carl July 13, 2012, 5:32 p.m.    

Are they going to impose sanctions on China,Saudi Arabia of course not US leaders are hypocrites. Look at afghan war-a rich mans war and a poor mans fight as the old saying goes. Obama,Romney,congress are wall street stooges who will leave american people as poor as ukrainian people.

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elmer-елмер July 14, 2012, 6:17 a.m.    

See, the thing is, carl, we're talking about Zookraine.

And no matter what you spout about China, or Saudi Arabia, and no matter your mistaken beliefs about "wall street stooges" - the decision to impose sanctions on the sovok mafia in Zookraine is correct.

What you are spouting is rhetoric left over from sovok union days - e.g., "wall street stooges."

You might as well have added "capitalist imperialist pigs."

Throwing your made-up pebbles at Obama and Romney doesn't change the fact that Zookraine is a sovok mafia state.

I am glad that they finally got rid of Lyona "Kosmos" (Space Cadet) Chernovetsky,.

It is way past high time for that.

Now, they need to get rid of the PoR sovok mafia, starting with yanusvoloch, chechetov, Boogoslonskaya, Kivalov, Yefremov, Lavrynovych, Kluyev, Zviahillsky, zArazov, etc.

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carl July 13, 2012, 5:26 p.m.    

What goes around comes around and powerful Americans could also get a dose of their on medicine. These hypocrites are destroying their own country. It is nice that American leaders care about people in Russia,Ukraine since they don't give a damn about people in America.

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elmer-елмер July 14, 2012, 6:19 a.m.    

well, carl, I wish the sovok mafia in Zookraine at least cared about the people in Ukraine as much as America and the EU does.

In fact, I wish the people in Zookraine cared about themselves and Ukraine as much as the US and the EU do.

As it is, the sovok mafia don't give a rat's ass about Zookraine, and the people keep leaving Zookraine - to go to the US and the EU.

seig heil
der fuhrer fascist yanustalin

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kpxoxol July 15, 2012, 7:54 p.m.    

You obviouisly HATE & ENVY Ukraine so much, you want Ukraine to plunge into economic and moral decay much where the BROKE & SINKING yankistan is heading, heh, heh, heh :D

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gary yellando July 15, 2012, 4:52 p.m.    

The Ukraine people voted for this soviet government.....If the Ukraine people wish to revert to soviet times, so be it...it is nobodys business but theirs....
Yanko is god in their eyes......and they will vote for him again and again.....wait and see....C I S registration will be signed before the end of the year..

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gary yellando July 15, 2012, 4:53 p.m.    

The Ukraine people voted for this soviet government.....If the Ukraine people wish to revert to soviet times, so be it...it is nobodys business but theirs....
Yanko is god in their eyes......and they will vote for him again and again.....wait and see....C I S registration will be signed before the end of the year..

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kpxoxol July 15, 2012, 7:52 p.m.    

The sooner the better - Ukraine is going to join the Customs Union fast enough afterwards, heh, heh, heh :D

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kpxoxol July 15, 2012, 8:03 p.m.    

"A former judge transfers a lump sum from one of his hard currency accounts to another. But the money does not get to its destination because it was held due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. authorities."

Considering how BROKE & DEPENDENT upon COMMUNIST China the US retards are, the chances are this "lump sum" is going to end up in COMMUNIST China bank, so this is NON ISSUE, heh, heh, heh :D

US are so powerless they don't dare quack about China RISING its import of Iran oil, despite the laud chest thumping about how the west "isolated" Iran oil trade. This "oil embargo" led to rise of the oil price in the west and Russia laughs all the way to the bank due to the western stupidity, heh, heh, heh :D

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Byron Hill July 15, 2012, 11:17 p.m.    

Sounds as if the centuries old practice raping and pillaging Russia and Ukraine's citizens is about to come to an abrupt halt. As history has shown, there is always a martyr that changes the direction of the wind. Kudos to Mr. Sergei Magnitsky, William Browder, Jamison Firestone, and Senator Roger Wicker.

Sergei Magnitsky joins the ranks of a long list of Russian heroes who lost their lives because they stood up for principle and for truth. These ranks include Natalia Estemirova a brave human rights activist shot in the head and chest and stuffed into the trunk of a car, Anna Politkovskaya an intrepid reporter shot while coming home with an arm full of groceries, and too many others.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZB3YoAvEro&feature=plcp&list=PL1F102F26005F7523

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Byron Hill July 15, 2012, 11:27 p.m.    

Sounds as if the centuries old practice of raping and pillaging Russia and Ukraine's citizens is about to come to an abrupt halt. As history has shown, there is always a martyr that changes the direction of the wind. Kudos to Mr. Sergei Magnitsky, William Browder, Jamison Firestone, and Senator Roger Wicker.

Sergei Magnitsky joins the ranks of a long list of Russian heroes who lost their lives because they stood up for principle and for truth. These ranks include Natalia Estemirova a brave human rights activist shot in the head and chest and stuffed into the trunk of a car, Anna Politkovskaya an intrepid reporter shot while coming home with an arm full of groceries, and too many others.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZB3YoAvEro&feature=plcp&list=PL1F102F26005F7523

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