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Canada to Deliver Severe Blow to Relations with Russia

Canada to Deliver Severe Blow to Relations with Russia

Canada to Deliver Severe Blow to Relations with Russia

On June 12, 2017, Russia and Canada marked the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The relationship has rarely been worse. The two nations spoke even at the height of the Cold War. Now there is almost no dialogue, especially since Canada joined the US and EU sanctions on Russia in 2014.

On October 4, the bilateral relationship received another heavy blow. The Canadian House of Representatives, the lower house, unanimously passed the bill (S.226) that aims to punish Russian officials said to be responsible for the death of an accountant and auditor Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. The legislation calls for the freezing of assets and visa bans on officials from Russia and other nations considered to be “guilty of human rights violations”.

The “Law on Victims of Corrupt Foreign Government” would prevent Canadian firms from dealing with foreign nationals who are “responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” The legislation aims Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Vietnam and Myanmar. The Special Economic Measures Act in force does not allow the freezing of assets of human rights violators in Canada. The Magnitsky bill would allow this.

To become law the bill will now go to the Senate for final approval and then on to Governor General Julie Payette for royal assent. “Should [the bill] be passed by the Senate and receive royal assent, it will enable Canada to sanction, impose travel bans on, and hold accountable those responsible for gross human rights violations and significant corruption,” Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said after the vote.

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