Congress passes Magnitsky Act to defend against Russian crime & influence

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In December, Congress passes the Magnitsky Act, intending to ban U.S. entry from Russian officials who were involved in the torture and death of a Russian tax accountant and whistleblower. The hope was to derail Russian organized crime and influence-peddling. 

Sergei Magnitsky was working at Hermitage Capital when he discovered that millions of dollars intended to pay taxes had been diverted to officials in Russia.

Magnitsky brought his findings to the Kremlin as he was investigating the situation and trying to track down the funds. In return, Russia fabricated evidence against him, imprisoned him, tortured him, and eventually murdered him.

He wasn’t prosecuted until after his death.

The Magnitsky Act originally targeted the Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky events but was expanded in 2016.

It initially barred 18 Russian officials thought to be involved in Magnitsky’s mistreatment and death from entering the US or using its banking system. It also banned any assets these individuals had in the country.

From 2016, Congress voted to expand it into the Global Magnitsky Act, which allowed for sanctions against human rights abusers in other parts of the world.

Since then, officials from countries as diverse as China, the Dominican Republic, the Gambia and even the US’s NATO ally Turkey have been sanctioned.


The Magnitsky Act becomes a hot topic in the Trump campaign and early years of his presidency.


Photo: Jon Sailer

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