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The Murder of Russian Rule of Law

reset111809.jpgFrom RA’s latest dispatch in the Huffington Post on the death by medical blackmail of Sergei Magnitsky:

It has become something of a journalistic cliché to take these shocking Kafkaesque legal sagas in Russia and call them “a litmus test” for the country to demonstrate its rule of law and potential for judicial independence. But we do ourselves a disservice if we continue to be surprised but a movie we have seen over and over again. The process of medical blackmail against Magnitsky is identical to what they did to Alexanyan. The ominous warning signal of what happens to whistleblowers serves the same purpose as what Anna Politkovskaya’s murder did for freedom of press.

Let the tragic death of Magnitsky not stand as another litmus test for rule of law, but rather a reverse test which measures our commitment to human rights. How many more dead Russians will it take before the world stands up and takes notice? Given the fluid willingness of so many presidents (Obama included) to seek accommodation and compromise to extract any improvement in relations with Russia, it is unlikely that this death will impact anyone’s deal. Next week if the media reports on the next business stolen by the government, the next activist shot, or the next journalist thrown in jail, will we pretend to be surprised again?

Russia long ago failed its litmus test for rule of law, but the international community must not fail its own.