How Magnitsky Act helps ‘move from kleptocracy to democracy’


Ukraine’s civil society protesters are pushing for a “move from kleptocracy to democracy,” AP reports.

If you ever want to feel inspired about what the United States is doing to combat kleptocracy – and have a couple hours to kill – ask one of the lawyers from the Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative about their cases, writes analyst Kellen McClure.

State-directed kleptocracy is this century’s brand of authoritarianism, but it is critical to understand that kleptocracy and authoritarianism are mutually supportive and reinforcing activities designed to achieve total control, says Heather A. Conleydirector of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the author of The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe.

An authoritarian leader and his or her inner circle can secure state-owned and private assets through kleptocratic means, and thereby secure control over key government and democratic institutions, she wrote for the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies.


In 2009, Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky (left) was brutally murdered in prison after uncovering the theft of $230 million by corrupt Russian officials, the Helsinki Commission notes. On the fifth anniversary of the Magnitsky Act, the Helsinki Commission will examine the implementation of the legislation, the resistance of the Russian government to it, and the impact of sanctions on senior members of Putin’s inner circle.

The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:

  • William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and author of Red Notice. Browder has led the fight to seek justice for Sergei Magnitsky and his family in both the U.S. and abroad. He will outline Russian opposition to his anti-corruption efforts and his work to help pass similar legislation around the world.
  • The Hon. Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights; Former Canadian Member of Parliament, Attorney General of Canada, and Minster of Justice. Cotler will provide details about Canada’s recent passage of its Magnitsky Act, its importance to Canada, and Russian resistance to the legislation.
  • Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and author of Winter Is Coming: Why Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped. Kasparov will explain the threat Putin’s regime poses toward the United States and analyze the Magnitsky Act’s efficacy.

Thursday, December 14, 2017. 9:30 AM. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. Live Webcast HERE.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) holds a briefing on “Combating Kleptocracy with the Global Magnitsky Act.”

Speakers: Alex Johnson, senior policy adviser for Europe and Eurasia, Open Society Policy Center; Charles Davidson, executive director of the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative; and Rob Berschinski, senior vice president of Human Rights First.

3 p.m. – December 13, 2017. Venue: 385 Russell Senate Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.

RSVP: Stacy Hope, 202-225-1901,  Livestream HERE.

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