Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on Wednesday spoke on the Senate Floor urging his colleagues to support legislation that approves consequences for human rights violations by Russia, coupled with establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the country. Wicker has been an outspoken supporter of the Sergei Magnitsky Act, which was included in a larger trade bill that is expected to be voted on today.
"The Magnitsky Act is a simple, straightforward call for justice," said Wicker. "It signals to the world that America will uphold its commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law. PNTR with Russia in an important vehicle for American trade, and it should serve as a reminder of our country's role in promoting the advancement of human rights."
Wicker added, "Last year, Mississippi's $55 million in exports to Russia helped support an estimated 170 jobs. Certainly this number needs to grow, and I believe it will under this legislation. And yet, in realizing the immense trade potential at hand, we cannot ignore the urgent need to address serious concerns about Russia's appalling human rights record."
Wicker, a cosponsor of the Sergei Magnitksy Rule of Law Accountability Act, has long demanded accountability for Russia's human rights abuses and blatant disregard for the rule of law. On numerous occasions he has called for justice by highlighting the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky.
Magnitsky was a Russian attorney who uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history. After testifying against government officials, he was arrested and held without a trial for a year. While in custody, Magnitsky was tortured and died. To date, no senior government official has been held responsible for his death.