NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Vladimir Putin is sitting in Alexander Lukashenko's lap reading Magnitsky Act. This is not a reportage photo, but a cartoon which Belarusians in Exile, a human rights organization, is using to attract attention to the state of affairs in Belarus. And this state of affairs is anything but funny.
In December of 2012, the US signed an anti-corruption law named after lawyer Sergey Magnitsky who died in jail after accusing Russian government officials of embezzling millions of US dollars of Russian government funds. The bill signed into law by President Obama bans Russian officials involved in corruption from traveling to the US or using the US banking system.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko pronounced that "Russia should ignore the Magnitsky Act." Lukashenko himself is doing precisely that – ignoring all attempts by foreign governments and human rights organizations to preserve the last democratic institutions in his country, where the 2012 elections, which saw only Lukashenko's supporters take elected positions, were declared unfair by observers.
Jamison Firestone, a lawyer and Sergey Magnitsky's partner, one of the supporters of the anti-corruption law, said, "Lukashenko is the last person in the world to advise Russia how to avert travel bans and asset freezes. The sanctions against Lukashenko and those who support his regime have served as a model for the Magnitsky sanctions. If Russia follows Lukashenko's advice, there is no doubt that the Magnitsky sanctions will quickly be adopted by the EU and most of the developed world."
The organization Belarusians in Exile, established by Belarusian emigrants and expats living in the US and Europe, together with other human rights watchdogs, is calling on the EU to toughen the sanctions against Lukashenko's regime, which relies on exports of oil, potash, and other commodities and products to Europe and other countries for more than 50% of government revenues. The organization counts on cartoon strips to help raise international awareness of this issue. Ilya Lushnikov, the organization's spokesman, said, "Alexander Lukashenko is not even a real dictator any more, he is too over-the-top. He is becoming a cartoon. So we are using cartoons to bring attention to the issue."
High-resolution version of the image is available from www.belorussians.org.
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SOURCE Belarusians in Exile