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The Daily Vertical: Why Russia Fears S-226 (Transcript)


The Kremlin is upset with Canada. It is all up in arms about something called Bill S-226.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called it an "anti-Russian action" and threatened retaliation against it.

And the Russian Embassy in Ottawa called it "a deplorably confrontational act blatantly interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs."

So what exactly is Bill S-226?

Well, it's otherwise known as the Justice For Victims Of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

The bill allows the Canadian government to sanction, freeze the assets of, and deny entry to foreigners from any country -- and I stress any country -- which is responsible for corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violations.

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Now, why would the Kremlin be so threatened by that? How is that inherently anti-Russian?

Unless, of course, Russia is engaged in systematic state-sponsored corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture, and other human rights violations.

Now, despite the Kremlin's threats and an intensive lobbying campaign by pro-Kremlin front groups, the bill unanimously passed its third and final reading in the lower house of Canada's Parliament last night.

It still must pass the Canadian Senate and be approved by the Governor General to become law.

Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, is of course informally known as the Sergei Magnitsky Act, named for the Russian lawyer who died in prison after exposing a massive official corruption scheme.

It's the latest part of an overdue message from the West to the world's kleptocrats and autocrats: If you want access to Western markets, Western banking systems, and Western societies, you need to abide by Western rules and Western norms.

And the fact that Putin's regime is threatened by that says quite a bit about Putin's regime.

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