20 April 2011, 16:30

Two US citizens sue President over Jackson-Vanik amendment

Two US citizens sue President over Jackson-Vanik amendment
Download audio file

Barack Obama has been summoned to appear before a court. Two US citizens, one of whom is a former

Barack Obama has been summoned to appear before a court. Two US citizens, one of whom is a former immigrant from the USSR, have turned to the Federal Court in Washington, demanding to declare the Jackson-Vanik amendment regarding Russia illegal and to waive it. The lawyers, for the plaintiffs, are confident that the head of the state has the authority to lift the amendment without consent from the Congress.

How many swords have been crossed around this notorious amendment over the last 20 years!  The document, which was approved in 1974 to put pressure on the Soviet Union, remains valid even after the break-up of the USSR.  The former Soviet republics – Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine managed to get free from this discriminatory act but the US Congressmen are showing an amazing obstinacy regarding Russia. Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr. and Barack Obama all promised to waive the amendment. In order to be on the safe side the White House nods to the Capitol Hill where the congressmen don’t even try to hide their prejudice against Moscow.

The claim was filed by the president of the American University in Moscow Eduard Lozansky (a long time ago he immigrated to the US from the USSR) and his colleague, former official of Reagan’s administration Antony Salvia. Their lawyers have found legal grounds, which give Obama the right to singlehandedly waive the amendment.

Under Jackson-Vanik amendment the US government should not provide favored nation status in trade, state loans and guarantees to those countries, which violate the right of their citizens on emigration and restrict the market economy. Over the last 20 years the US authorities have annually declared a moratorium on this act but they have not waived it.

Here we should note that the claim filed to the court in Washington is not aimed against Obama personally or against his policy. On the contrary, this is an attempt to help him to move further with the reset of the US-Russia relations, Anthony Salvia says.

"By initiating this law suit we are not going to criticize Obama. On the contrary I think the president was right when he attempted to improve relations with Moscow. It is clear that Obama has all the juridical authority to lift the amendment and I think he should act right now. The reset in relations should be permanent and not a temporary one. The cancelation of the amendment will be a small but also a significant step in this direction."

Experts agree that it is the US business first of all which will profit from the abandonment of the amendment. US companies will be able to invest in the Russian economy without being afraid of changes in relations between the countries. Here is an opinion of the president of the Russian-American Council on Business Cooperation David Yakobashvili.

"This amendment should be removed because it is advantageous neither for Russians nor for Americans.  No pressure on business ever paid back. On the contrary, we should let businessmen enter other countries and work there. Politics is one thing but business is business. If we do not let business develop, it won’t be advantageous for politics either."

The claim to the court in Washington was filed on Monday, April 18. Now the White House lawyers have 60 days to respond. Meanwhile the complainants are gathering supporters. Under the US law all businessmen whose interests are affected by the Jackson-Vanik amendment have the right to take part in the proceedings.

    and share via