U.S. Budget Committee Approves Jackson-Vanik Repeal

The Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a repeal of Jackson-Vanik amendment, RIA Novosti reports on Thursday.

The Jackson-Vanik Amendment, passed in 1974, barred favorable trade relations with the Soviet Union because it would not let Jewish citizens freely emigrate. The restrictions imposed by Jackson-Vanik are often waived, but remain in place and are a thorn in the side of Russia-U.S. trade relations.

Jackson-Vanik repeal is combined with the so-called Magnitsky Bill - a measure aiming to punish Russian officials involved in the death of a tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, days after accusing police investigators of involvement in a $230-million tax refund fraud, and died after almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

Russian investigators in turn accused Magnitsky and Hermitage of tax evasion.

The Magnitsky case, along with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and the rift over the Syrian crisis, is a major stumbling block in the “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations.

The Obama administration, which has been evasive about the proposed legislation, said on June 18 it considers it necessary to distinguish between the adoption of the Magnitsky blacklist and the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

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