Romney: Human Rights Before Trade

Obama camp prefers 'clean' bill stripped of human rights language

Mitt Romney / AP


Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he would only back a Russian trade bill if it came with new guarantees of human rights and blasted President Obama for refusing to do the same. Reports Reuters:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would support legislation to upgrade U.S. trade relations with Russia only if Congress also passes a measure to go after Russian human right violators, his campaign said on Thursday.

"Gov. Romney believes that permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) should only be granted to Russia on the condition that the Magnitsky human rights bill be passed," Lanhee Chen, policy director for the Romney campaign, said in a statement.

Chen was referring to legislation being considered in Congress that would require the U.S. government to impose sanctions on people believed responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in a Russian prison, and other human rights violators.

Goldman Sachs, one of the Obama campaign's biggest supporters in 2008, lobbied hard to torpedo the Magnitsky legislation. The move surprised and angered proponents of  human rights:

Other experts were surprised to learn that Goldman—the Obama campaign’s largest Wall Street donor in 2008, and the president’s second largest donor overall, giving more than $1 million to the campaign—was actively lobbying against a measure meant to protect innocent Russians and crack down on money laundering.

"There is something troubling about a business lobbying against Magnitsky," Anna Borshchevskaya, assistant director of the Atlantic Council’s Patriciu Eurasia Center, told the Free Beacon. "It raises questions about whether this company cares about promoting good business practices, or whether [it wants] to ingratiate itself to the Kremlin at any cost."

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