Some members of the Russian opposition, including Aleksei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Vladimir S. Milov, and Ilya V. Ponomaryov, have released a statement today calling upon the U.S. government to remove the antiquated Jackson-Vanik amendment and grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations status to Russia. While the opposition decries the discriminatory nature of Jackson-Vanik, which ends up serving as an advantage for Putin, they also point out that smarter sanctions, such as the Magnitsky Act (S.1039), would be a much stronger and much welcomed replacement to place pressure on individual corrupt officials. Here is the statement as published on Milov’s LiveJournal, with emphasis on the final paragraph:
Removal of Russia from the provisions of the Cold War era Jackson-Vanik Amendment has long been an issue of political debate. Although the outdated nature and irrelevance of the amendment is widely recognized, some politicians in the United States argue that the removal of Russia from Jackson-Vanik would help no one but the current Russian undemocratic political regime.
That assumption is flat wrong. Although there are obvious problems with democracy and human rights in modern Russia, the persistence on the books of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment does not help to solve them at all. Moreover, it brings direct harm. It limits Russia’s competitiveness in international markets for higher value-added products, leaving Russia trapped in its current petro-state model of development and preventing it from transforming into a modern, diversified and more hi-tech economy. (…)
We, leading figures of the Russian political opposition, strongly stand behind efforts to remove Russian from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Jackson-Vanik is not helpful in any way — neither for promotion of human rights and democracy in Russia, nor for the economic interests of its people. Sanctions which harm the interests of ordinary Russians are unhelpful and counter-productive – much more effective are targeted sanctions against specific officials involved in human rights abuse, like those named in the Senator Benjamin Cardin’s list in the Sergey Magnitsky case (Senate Bill 1039).
It is time to remove Russia from Jackson-Vanik!