Kislyak’s notion that the U.S. and Russia are comparable, in terms of democratic values, is, of course, completely absurd. In the U.S., journalists who expose the Obama administration can in extreme cases be harassed and intimidated, and sometimes even hauled into court. In Russia, by contrast, journalists and human rights activists who seek to expose the regime can be tortured and, in many cases, murdered. The U.S. allows pro-Moscow voices such as Russia Today (RT) to broadcast throughout the nation. The Kremlin suppresses and even outlaws dissident voices.
The 2013 State Department human rights report on Russia said that the regime has not brought to justice the individuals responsible for the deaths of prominent journalists, activists, and whistleblowers, such as Sergey Magnitsky.
Magnitsky was the Russian attorney for businessman Bill Browder, who ran an investment fund in Russia called Hermitage Capital Management. He was listed as a participant in the U.S.-Russia Forum in 2003. In 2009, however, Magnitsky was imprisoned and then killed by Russian authorities after he uncovered official corruption involving the theft of $230 million.
Browder himself became an “Enemy of the State” in Russia, and has been threatened with death. On the CBS “60 Minutes” program, he said, “The Russian regime is a criminal regime. We’re dealing with a nuclear country run by a bunch of Mafia crooks. And we have to know that.”
That is why the attendance list at the event, provided to this columnist, is so interesting. With few exceptions, they were supporters of the Russian regime. The list constitutes a “who’s who” of individuals, mostly in Washington, D.C. and New York, who can be counted on to promote the Russian line and more U.S.-Russian trade.
On the list, we find several people from the Russian Orthodox Church. Other groups represented at the forum were involved in international trade with Russia. They included:
- The law firm Patton Boggs, which represented Gennady Timchenko, a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters reported the Russian was seeking U.S. government financing to buy U.S. planes.)
- Dimtry Beskurnikov of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who is said to be the owner and manager at Russian American Trade & Investing Consulting, and a member of the Business Advisory Board at Eurasia Business Coalition
- Sergey Belyakov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
In addition to these individuals, we find the following interesting names on the list:
- Umberto Pascali, who has written about how the Russians are preparing to dump the U.S. dollar as the world’s currency
- Axel Tillman, who represents the U.S. arm, RVC-USA, of a Russia-backed venture capital firm
- Webster Tarpley, formerly of the Lyndon LaRouche organization.
Phillip Swarts, an investigative reporter at The Washington Times, covered the U.S.-Russian forum, emphasizing the Russian point of view.
The next phase of this process for putting in place a “constructive agenda for U.S.- Russia relations” is scheduled for September 7 – 9, 2014, in Moscow.
This article originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.