EU lawmakers urge to tackle Kremlin’s anti-democratic activities with EU Magnitsky Act

Lawmakers in the European Parliament urge the EU to adopt legislation to punish Russian businessmen for money-laundering activities within the EU that are used to back the Kremlin’s anti-democratic activities, such as election interference, cyberattacks, and disinformation campaigns.

‘Only if we act together, as a truly united transatlantic community, we, the West, will stand a chance to counteract the Russian administration’s actions and defend our own values and freedoms and democracy.’

So far, 44 lawmakers have signed the letter, copied below.

26 April 2018, Brussels

To: The Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States
Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission
Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

We, Members of the European Parliament, urge you to expand the package of restrictive measures that is currently applied by the European Union in respect of Kremlin-linked individuals and entities. We fully concur that the economic and personal sanctions imposed up to now by the EU in response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine were both timely and indispensable and proved to be very effective in raising the cost of that action. The unanimity of all Western democracies in adopting these measures, as well as the depth of transatlantic unity between the European Union and the United States came as a surprise to Moscow and, to a major extent, did help to deter the Russian administration from its further territorial expansion in Ukraine.

Russia, however, is continuing to ignore its own obligations under the Minsk agreement and remains in occupied territories of Ukraine as well as of Georgia in violation of international law. President Putin continues to provide significant military support to Assad’s brutal regime and has been repeatedly and blatantly blocking investigation into the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria at the United Nations. In Russia itself, the Kremlin continues to repress what remains of the country’s democratic opposition and independent media.

Furthermore, it has become evident that Putin aims to deliberately confront the Western democracies in order to politically divide and destabilise them. The credibility of our institutions has been put to the test by massive cyber-attacks and propaganda campaigns launched by the Russian administration in relation to elections and referenda lately held in the West. Poisoning a former Russian spy, as well as his daughter, a police officer and potentially many other innocent bystanders, in Salisbury demonstrates the level of the Kremlin’s brutality and disregard for the norms of international conduct. Others have allegedly been killed at the hands of the Russian regime, such as Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya and Maksim Borodin, among others.

We therefore are absolutely convinced that as long as the Kremlin’s regime does not change its aggressive behaviour additional restrictive measures need to be imposed on Russian individuals and businesses with links to the regime.

We propose that new sanctions, in the form of a Magnitsky Act, specifically target those Russian tycoons and oligarchs, who shelter and launder illicit funds in Member States helping Putin to enable his anti-democratic activities and who fund, cover or manage multi-billion euro operations, such as election meddling, cyberattacks, fake news and propaganda campaigns or sending mercenaries to Syria and Ukraine. We cannot either accept that several EU Member States continue colluding with illegal money laundering activities and schemes, these being strongly backed by the Kremlin, by not taking proper and strong measures against it and, hence, enabling Russian tycoons and oligarchs to attack our European democracies from within.

With this in mind and as long-standing supporters of transatlantic unity and partnership, we strongly encourage the European Union to start the necessary consultations both internally and with the United States aimed at synchronising the lists of additional EU restrictive measures with those recently adopted by the US Congress and Treasury Department, under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Only if we act together, as a truly united transatlantic community, we, the West, will stand a chance to counteract the Russian administration’s actions and defend our own values and freedoms and democracy.