A response to suggestions that Greens are taking a ‘pro-Kremlin’ line in the European Parliament

Greens in Europe have responded to grotesque insinuations from some Russian sources on social media that the they are taking a ‘pro-Kremlin’ stand, together with unacceptable suggestions that they are on ‘Putin’s payroll’. The comments follow a decision by Greens not to back a move by centre-right group, the European People’s Party (EPP), to include Sergei Magnitsky’s name on a piece of human right’s legislation. Mr Magnitsky was an auditor at a Moscow law firm and legal adviser for a London-based US hedge fund. He subsequently died in police custody following his arrest in Russia in 2008.

Greens have issued the following statement in response to the allegations being levelled against them:

On the agenda of the European Parliament plenary session, a debate and resolution were included with the name ‘A European Human Rights violations sanction regime’. This topic with this specific title was proposed by the Greens/EFA group, who have been fighting for such a sanction regime for many years.

We have also been active on the Magnitsky case for several years. In 2012 we supported a resolution calling on EU governments in Council to introduce sanctions against the Russian officials responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky. 

In 2013 we supported Russian human rights defenders. The Greens/EFA group also supported (and actively contributed) to the two key European Parliament resolutions on Magnitsky:

Common visa restrictions for Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 and Common visa restrictions for Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case on Wednesday, 2 April 2014.

The plenary debate on Monday 11th March 2019 was not about whether or not the European Parliament should have a debate and resolution, nor on what name a law should have. It only focussed on the name of the debate and resolution that the European Parliament will focus on. This debate was initiated by an European Peoples Party (EPP) request which focused on their wish to change the title to include a reference to Magnitsky. This debate therefore is not about whether or not a regime is actually needed, but only as to what it should be called on the EU plenary agenda.

The Greens/EFA oppose including a reference to ‘Magnitsky’ in the title of such a debate for the following reasons:

  1. The Greens/EFA consider building an EU-wide consensus on the need for such a regime the first priority. We want to stimulate all Member States to support the idea in principle. Including a reference to Magnitsky distracts from the content (what do we want such a regime to look like and how should it work).
  2. A focus on Magnitsky’s case can lead to country-specific considerations which is to be avoided when considering a global human rights instrument.
  3. It is also a matter of consistency: EU legislation does not have names of individuals in it, but is very technical in nature.
  4. None of the existing EU HR sanctions regime of EU Member States (nor Canada) have Magnitsky in their title.
  5. The only existing HR sanctions regime with Magnitsky in its title is that of the USA. The Greens/EFA want to argue for a sanction regime that is in several important aspects quite different from the US regime. Important examples are the inclusion of strong judicial redress options as well as a more balanced and democratic prerogative for listing individuals.