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Campaigners urging the British Government to adopt stringent sanctions against Russian officials suspected of torture and corruption have renewed their call for action, as a new poll reveals overwhelming public support for the measure.
Despite two European Parliament resolutions calling for member states to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on Russian officials involved in the arrest, torture and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, as yet the Government has failed to follow the lead of the US in passing the Magnitsky Act, which places travel and financial sanctions on those suspected of crime and human rights abuses in Russia and names those involved in a public US Government listing.
Parliamentarians and campaigners have said the failure to bring about a British law similar to the Magnitsky Act undermines David Cameron’s call at the G8 Summit for a crackdown on tax transparency and has enabled corrupt officials to do business freely and with impunity in the UK.
A new YouGov poll commissioned by the Henry Jackson Society think tank has revealed the vast majority of the British public would support legislation to refuse visas and freeze the assets of Russian officials who are believed to be involved in corruption, torture and human rights.
Key results of the survey of 1,860 people include:
·Overall, almost three quarters of those polled (72 per cent) said they would support a British Magnitsky Act, compared with just six per cent who would oppose such a measure. This rises to 78 per cent of Conservative voters.
·72 per cent of people believe corruption in Russia is widespread, with four per cent believing it is not widespread.
·Just 14 per cent of those polled believe the British Government is doing as much as could be reasonably expected to stop money from Russian crime and corruption entering the UK. 46 per cent of Conservative voters and 49 per cent of Labour voters believe the Government should be doing more.
Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society Dr Alan Mendoza said: “We in the West have a responsibility to halt the spread of human rights crimes and corruption in the Russian political system.
“The inaction of the British Government in bringing about a law which would rightly place sanctions on those suspected of serious human rights abuses makes a mockery of our ability to pose as champions of freedom and liberty.”
“The US has shown the way; all we need do is follow. Failing to do so also undermines our commitment to improve transparency in international business, clean up our own financial systems and clamp down on tax evasion.”
William Browder, Founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and former client of Sergei Magnitsky, said: “The UK poll shows that British government should do much more than they have already done to ban corrupt Russian officials and human rights abusers.”
Sir Malcolm Bruce, (Lib Dem, Gordon), said: ”The Magnitsky and Khordokovsky cases amongst others, demonstrate clearly that democratic countries need to stand up to Russia and make it clear that they will not make it easy for Russia to perpetrate abuse of due process and human rights.”
Dominic Raab MP (Con, Esher and Walton) said: “The British people don’t want those with blood on their hands for appalling crimes skipping through UK passport control, to do their Christmas shopping in Harrods or buy up property on the Kings Road. We should take a lead in passing a UK Magnitsky Act to prevent Britain becoming a safe haven for the henchmen of Putin’s rotten regime.”
Commenting on confirmation, through a Written Parliamentary Question, that the 60 suspects accused of involvement in the persecution of Sergei Magnitsky have been banned from entering the UK Mr Raab said:
“I welcome this crucial first-step towards introducing a UK Magnitsky Act.
“Ministers have shown real mettle in doing the right thing. When we have credible evidence on those with blood on their hands for the most appalling crimes, they should not be free to breeze into Britain as if nothing had happened.”
The UK poll follows a similar survey in France, which found 85 per cent of voters would support the introduction of a French Magnitsky Act. In addition, 44 per cent of Russians surveyed in December 2012 said they supported US and EU sanctions against officials as an effective measure to fight corruption and human rights abuse in their country (http://www.levada.ru/20-12-2012/rossiyane-o-zakone-magnitskogo).
For media inquiries, contact Henry Jackson Society Director of Communications Elizabeth Lee on +44 (0)7739 626 918 or +44 (0)207 340 4520, or email firstname.lastname@example.org