US lawmakers want to release a list of foreign officials and oligarchs banned from entering the US

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Several U.S. lawmakers want to pass a bill that would allow the State Department to disclose the identities of officials and oligarchs who have been barred from entering the United States for “serious adverse foreign policy” reasons, including corruption and human rights abuses. This list may include many from the former Soviet Union.

In early 2018, when Ukrainian media informed the public that Attorney General Yuri Lutsenko had been denied a trip to the United States, the country’s chief lawyer immediately denied the story, and for no reason.
“This would be the end of his political career,” Daria Kalenyuk, executive director of the Kiev Center for Anti-Corruption, told RFE / RL.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

Now the bipartisan group in the United States wants to change that. Lawmakers are backing a bill that would allow the State Department to reveal the identities of oligarchs, officials and others it bans from entering the country, as allowing them to enter the country could have “serious foreign policy consequences,” often related to alleged human rights abuses. With defense and confrontation between countries.

The Disclosure Act repeals the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which prohibits the public disclosure of information about individuals who are barred from entering the country for foreign policy reasons.

If passed, its proponents say, it would become the US government’s latest tool in the fight against corruption and human rights abuses amid growing concerns in Washington about fundamental freedoms and the rule of law over the backwardness of democracy in many parts of the world, including Russia and Including several former Soviet republics.

“The kleptocrats are hoping for anonymity. When we expose them, we will use their power. The United States must not allow fraudsters to hide behind confidentiality,” said Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland Submitted.

Huge Step

Serik Medetbekov, a spokesman for the Kazakh Civil Society Coalition, an organization that brings together various democratic and human rights groups in the Central Asian country, told RFE / RL that the passage of the bill by the West would be an “important sign” for foreign activists such as himself.

“When you ban someone in public, it is a huge step for the whole fight against corruption,” said Medetbekov, who is lobbying for sanctions against 22 Kazakh citizens in Congress.

Kallenyuk said this would also be a “strong message” to officials, a warning sign that they “could be next” on the visa ban list if involved in corruption and human rights abuses.

U.S. Department of State

There is no public information on the number of people barred from entering the country under this article of the Immigration and Citizenship Act, although this could freely be hundreds of people, including many oligarchs and officials from the former Soviet Union.

The names of some of those who may be banned under this section of the Immigration and Citizenship Act may be collected from Treasury Department sanctions lists, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and statements made by lobbyists in the United States.

The Treasury Department should publish the identities of the people who imposed the sanctions so that individuals and firms in the United States know that they should not be dealt with. Adding to the sanctions list does not mean that a person is barred from entering the United States, although the likelihood of this is high because a visa ban is a common component of similar measures.

State Department officials sometimes express their views on foreign magnates and officials in their correspondence, which can be obtained by requesting public information. These views – such as referring to someone as “corrupt” – may imply that the person is barred from entering the United States, although there is no direct link.

Foreign magnates who are banned from entering the United States sometimes hire lobbying firms to help them lift the ban.

Kazakh billionaire Alexander Mashkevich, suspected in a lengthy bribery investigation in Britain, hired the Washington-based Sonoran Policy Group in February to lobby the US government on “business and travel” issues, but there is no evidence that he has any evidence that Login.

Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, who has long been rumored to be banned from entering the United States, hired a $ 80,000 firm in 2017 to lobby the State Department for a “U.S. E-2 Investor visa.”

In March of this year, the State Department abruptly publicly banned Kolomoisky and his immediate family members from entering the United States in 2014-2015 while serving as governor of the region for participating in corruption.

It has done so under Article 7031 (c) of the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Act, which not only authorizes the State Department to prohibit a person and his or her immediate family members from entering the country when there is credible evidence of corruption or human rights abuses, but also gives The right to disclose their names as well.

United States And his Scope Out?

Following the first application of Article 7031 (c) in 2018 to embarrass former Albanian Attorney General Adriatic Lala, the State Department has publicly named more than 160 people banned from entering the United States under the condition, which includes officials’ immediate family members.

However, the use of the above article to prohibit a person from entering the United States is more restrictive than the Immigration and Citizenship Act, as it requires more evidence of their involvement in corruption and human rights abuses.

Such evidence is often difficult to obtain because foreign governments may be reluctant to cooperate and share materials with the United States.

This section of the Immigration and Citizenship Act is “much faster, much more flexible and does not require the standard of credible evidence,” Paul Masaro, Senior Commissioner for Policy and Co-operation in Europe, told RFE / RL.

The Commission on Security and Co-operation in Europe, also known as the United States Helsinki Commission, is an independent commission of the U.S. Government that promotes human rights and democracy in Europe and Central Asia. Its three leading members – Cardin, a member of the House of Representatives, Steve Cohen (Democrat – Tennessee) and Senator Marco Rubio (Republican – Florida) – introduced the act of publicity.

The State Department in February used the Immigration and Citizenship Act, INA, to impose bans on 76 Saudi nationals who were believed to be threatening foreigners, otherwise thinkers, and linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Anthony Blinken

Anthony Blinken

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the State Department is also considering whether to include Saudi nationals in the list, in accordance with Article 7031 (c), and to publish their names.

If this information disclosure law is approved, Blinken will be empowered to disclose their identities without having to obtain credible confirmation.

Other countries can follow the example of the United States, which will expand the impact of this act, said an Ohio congressman from the Republican Party. He is one of the co-authors of the law.

For a document to have the force of law, it must be approved by both houses of Congress and then signed by the president.

Representatives of the Biden administration do not talk much about the law, but Masaro said he is supported by both parties and expects the document to be approved as law.

If a publicity law is passed, in cases where it is in the national interest of the United States, the administration will still be able to keep secret the identities of some individuals who have been banned for “serious adverse foreign policy reasons.”

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