Sunday, April 30, 2017

EU, Russia visa negotiations spark human rights debate

During last week's meeting of European Union and Russian officials in Yekaterinburg, discussions of lifting visa requirements for certain Russians seeking to travel throughout Europe incited further outrage among some European parliamentarians.

Officials from the Russian government have requested that the EU lift the visa requirement for its 15,000 government employees, thereby allowing them to enter EU nations freely. During last Tuesday's meeting, some EU representatives expressed fears that such liberalization of the visa requirement would also give free travel rights to Russian human rights violators as well, The Washington Post reports.

Approximately 50 European parliament members sent a letter to key EU ministers stating their opposition to Russia's visa proposal unless a list of excluded Russian officials was included.

The letter also included support of a European draft of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which would maintain visa sanctions on select Russian officials who were associated with the murder of Sergei Magnitsky-- a Russian lawyer who was killed in jail after he accused police and tax officials of fraud, according to The Washington Post.

Representatives from the Russian government have threatened diplomatic retaliation against EU nations that adopt a version of the Magnitsky Act. When the measure was passed in the United States, Russia banned Americans from adopting Russian orphans.

"We look forward to constructive proposals from you about how to prevent the corrupted officials or those who violated human rights from entering the EU," the parliamentarians' letter stated, The Washington Post reports.