[House Hearing, 111 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
A RELIC OF THE COLD WAR: IS IT TIME TO REPEAL JACKSON-VANIK FOR RUSSIA?
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION AND TRADE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 27, 2010
Serial No. 111-112
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California, Chairman
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
Samoa DAN BURTON, Indiana
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BRAD SHERMAN, California DANA ROHRABACHER, California
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
BILL DELAHUNT, Massachusetts EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York RON PAUL, Texas
DIANE E. WATSON, California JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri MIKE PENCE, Indiana
ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey JOE WILSON, South Carolina
GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
MICHAEL E. McMAHON, New York J. GRESHAM BARRETT, South Carolina
JOHN S. TANNER, Tennessee CONNIE MACK, Florida
GENE GREEN, Texas JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska
LYNN WOOLSEY, California MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas TED POE, Texas
BARBARA LEE, California BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada GUS BILIRAKIS, Florida
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
MIKE ROSS, Arkansas
BRAD MILLER, North Carolina
DAVID SCOTT, Georgia
JIM COSTA, California
KEITH ELLISON, Minnesota
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, Arizona
RON KLEIN, Florida
VACANTUntil 5/5/10 deg.
Richard J. Kessler, Staff Director
Yleem Poblete, Republican Staff Director
Subcommittee on Europe
BILL DELAHUNT, Massachusetts, Chairman
JOHN S. TANNER, Tennessee ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey GUS BILIRAKIS, Florida
MICHAEL E. McMAHON, New York JOE WILSON, South Carolina
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada TED POE, Texas
BRAD MILLER, North Carolina JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
DAVID SCOTT, Georgia BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
JIM COSTA, California J. GRESHAM BARRETT, South Carolina
VACANTUntil 6/9/10 deg.
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade
BRAD SHERMAN, California, Chairman
GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
DAVID SCOTT, Georgia TED POE, Texas
DIANE E. WATSON, California DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
MICHAEL E. McMAHON, New York JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas J. GRESHAM BARRETT, South Carolina
RON KLEIN, Florida
C O N T E N T S
Mr. Edward S. Verona, President and Chief Executive Officer,
U.S.-Russia Business Council................................... 15
Mr. Mark B. Levin, Executive Director, National Conference on
Soviet Jewry................................................... 21
The Honorable Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow
for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
(Former Ambassador-at-Large and Special Adviser to the
Secretary for the New Independent States)...................... 32
Edward D. Lozansky, Ph.D., Founder and President, World Russia
Mr. Mark Talisman, President, Project Judaica Foundation......... 47
Mr. David Satter, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute................ 53
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Bill Delahunt, a Representative in Congress from
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Chairman, Subcommittee
on Europe: Prepared statement.................................. 4
Mr. Edward S. Verona: Prepared statement......................... 18
Mr. Mark B. Levin: Prepared statement............................ 23
The Honorable Stephen Sestanovich: Prepared statement............ 34
Edward D. Lozansky, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.................... 43
Mr. Mark Talisman: Prepared statement............................ 50
Mr. David Satter: Prepared statement............................. 55
Hearing notice................................................... 66
Hearing minutes.................................................. 68
The Honorable Brad Sherman, a Representative in Congress from the
State of California, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Terrorism,
Nonproliferation and Trade: Material submitted for the record.. 69
Mr. Mark B. Levin: Letter dated November 19, 2001, from Mr.
Harold P. Luks, Chairman, NCSJ, to President George W. Bush.... 77
The Honorable Bill Delahunt: Statement by the Honorable Dennis J.
Kucinich, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio.. 78
A RELIC OF THE COLD WAR: IS IT TIME TO REPEAL JACKSON-VANIK FOR RUSSIA?
TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Europe and
Subcommittee on Terrorism,
Nonproliferation and Trade,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 2:07 p.m., in
room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bill Delahunt
(chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe) presiding.
Mr. Delahunt. This joint hearing will now come to order. I
want to welcome all of our distinguished panelists. I will have
an opportunity to introduce you individually as we proceed
forward, but I will make a few opening remarks, and then
recognize my colleagues.
In early 2009, the United States-Russian relationship was
at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. The Obama
administration came to office with a conviction that an
improved bilateral relationship was essential to our national
security. After both countries hit the so-called reset button
in February 2009, some significant and important developments
occurred in both tone and substance in the bilateral
relationship. Let me put forth some examples.
First, as a result of Russian cooperation, in less than a
year, 20,000 American troops headed for Afghanistan have either
traveled through Russia or over Russian airspace, saving the
American taxpayers some $133 million. Secretary of State for
Political Affairs Bill Burns recently observed, and these are
his words, Russia is becoming a much more active operational
partner in a collective effort to help stabilize Afghanistan
and prevent violent extremism to regain a platform there.
As to the issue of a nuclear-armed Iran, there has been a
shift in the Russian position regarding sanctions. It is no
longer a question if sanctions should be imposed, but a
question of what form they should take.
In the aftermath of the July summit in Moscow, both
Presidents agreed to form the U.S.-Russia Bilateral
Presidential Commission. This Commission, with 16 working
groups, is dedicated to dealing with issues such as energy,
terrorism, drug trafficking, science and technology, education
and cultural exchanges, and much more. Their work is
progressing, and reports are expected by the end of the summer.
Most importantly, on April 8th in Prague, Czechoslovakia,
the United States and Russia signed a historic nuclear arms
reduction treaty slashing the number of strategic nuclear
warheads by one-third. This new START agreement signifies a
substantial change in the relationship and demonstrates to the
nonnuclear world that both Russia and the United States are
committed to advancing the cause of nuclear nonproliferation.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the reset of this
relationship is not limited to official governmental actions,
but has had an impact on Russian attitudes toward the United
States. In early 2009, only 38 percent of the Russian
population had a positive attitude toward the United States. A
year later, that number has increased by 16 percent. Now some
54 percent of the Russian people have a favorable view of the
So, yes, it is my opinion that the bilateral relationship
has improved in many ways, and it is my own belief that it is
imperative to our national security to sustain this momentum,
because we can't forget that the United States and Russia
possess 96 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. So, if for
no other reason, this reality makes this a most critical
bilateral relationship and should underscore the need to
sustain and enhance the positive trends that have developed
over the course of the past year.
Now, I am not naive, and I recognize that there are and
remain disagreements and contentious issues between us that
need to be addressed, and I am sure there will be hearings and
other occasions and other venues to discuss those issues. But
one of the most obvious irritants in the bilateral relationship
from the Russian perspective is the continued application to
Russia of section 402 of the Trade Act of 1974, the so-called
Jackson-Vanik amendment. The amendment imposed trade
restrictions on those countries who denied its citizens the
right of freedom of immigration.
The genesis of the amendment was the Soviet Union's refusal
to allow Soviet Jews to travel overseas, but the reality is
that Russia, as the successor of the Soviet Union, has fully
complied with the amendment's requirements as concluded by a
Presidential compliance determination since 1994, 16 years ago,
and yet Congress has failed to graduate Russia from the
Ironically, Russia and Israel recently implemented a visa-
free travel program for their citizens traveling between their
countries. It was implemented just this past Saturday. This
program eliminates the Byzantine process of filling out the
extensive Russian visa application and then navigating the
It would appear that Russia and Israel enjoy a special
relationship. It is interesting to note that neither Israel nor
Russia are participants in our Visa Waiver Program. So, I
believe we should take the advice of the coauthor of this
amendment, the late Congressman Charles Vanik, who stated in
1989, and, again, these are his words, the Soviet Union has
freed up immigration to the point where it makes sense to waive
Jackson-Vanik and restore normal trade tariff conditions to
I would submit that it is time for the United States
Congress to act, and we do have a precedent for graduating
countries from Jackson-Vanik. For example, even though China
remains a Communist country today, in 1999, Congress graduated
it from all aspects of Title IV of the 1974 Trade Act, paving
the way for China's accession to the WTO, and yet Russia has
not acceded to the WTO after filing its application back in the
As I said, Russia has satisfied the requirements
articulated by the amendment, and we should not move the
goalposts and ask for further concessions that are irrelevant
to the amendment. Changing the rules of the game seriously, I
believe, undermines our credibility and breeds resentment that
affects the relationship and our own bona fides as a potential
partner. Not only would graduating Russia bring economic and
commercial benefits, encouraging American companies to increase
investments in Russia, but will also send a clear and distinct
message to the Russian people that the United States is serious
on forging a more dynamic and cohesive partnership.
I look forward to the testimony from today's witnesses.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Delahunt follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Now let me turn to my friend and ranking
member, the gentleman from California Mr. Gallegly, for his
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank
you for holding the hearing today to look at the possibility of
repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment as it applies to Russia.
I would also like to welcome and thank the six witnesses that
are here today participating in this hearing.
The Jackson-Vanik amendment was enacted into law with the
intention of protecting the rights of Jews attempting to
emigrate from the former Soviet Union in the 1970s. The
amendment removed most-favored-nation trade status until Russia
was in full compliance with a free immigration policy. Every
year since 1994, U.S. Presidents have declared Russia to be in
compliance in terms of freedom of immigration. This awards
Russia what is now normal trade relation status.
Jackson-Vanik is effectively not applied to Russia as long
as their compliance with immigration standards does not change.
However, the continued existence of Jackson-Vanik impacts the
U.S. trade relationship with Russia as Russia prepares for
membership in the World Trade Organization. Without the repeal
of Jackson-Vanik for Russia, the United States will be forced
to opt out of the WTO obligation toward Russia, and, because of
the conditions placed on Russia, NTR status as a result of
As we consider lifting Jackson-Vanik, it is important to
note that although the trade relationship between Russia and
the United States has grown significantly in recent years,
there are still outstanding issues. The most notable is the
failure of Russian authorities to adequately enforce
intellectual property rights. In addition, there remain high
tariffs in place on cars and sports utility vehicles that are
imported from the United States, as well as issues related to
the importation of beef and poultry into Russia.
As Congress and the Obama administration considers lifting
Jackson-Vanik, I believe it is imperative that all of these
trade issues be resolved. Further, it is my belief that our
trade policy toward Russia would be viewed in the larger
context of our overall bilateral relationship.
The U.S. has many critical national interests that are
profoundly impacted by our relations with Russia, including,
most importantly, our effort to prevent Iran from acquiring
nuclear weapons. In addition, the United States is seeking
strong Russian cooperation in the war against international
terrorism and preventing terrorist groups from acquiring
weapons of mass destruction. We also have strong interests in
the evolution of Russia's own political system, its respect for
human rights and its relations with its neighbors.
Therefore, I look forward to listening to the witnesses
today on the impact of Jackson-Vanik on our trade relationship
and on the U.S. national security priorities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Elton.
I am going to go first to the vice chair of the
Subcommittee on Trade and Nuclear Proliferation, the gentleman
from Georgia Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. It is good to
be with you again on this important hearing.
Obviously, with the end of the Cold War, Russia is no
longer the looming threat it once was to us, and neither are we
the looming threat that we once were to Russia. Quite the
contrary, we have the potential now of developing one of the
great partnerships in the history of civilization, particularly
addressing the security and economic challenges facing the
world, no matter whether it is the procurement and the safety
of nuclear weapons and ending proliferation, the hot spots of
dealing with Iran, our relations with China, keeping weapons of
mass destruction and nuclear weapons out of the hands of
Wherever we are in dealing with security of the world,
Russia and the United States loom as great, necessary partners.
In order to achieve the maximum level of cooperation, it is
vitally important that we set aside broad philosophical
differences, some that still linger, and shrug off the last
vestiges of this Cold War.
Our subcommittee must approach today's topic with
recognition of the delicate balance necessary to promote
America's best interests abroad, and we must promote a trade
policy that encourages the responsible growth of American
business here at home and abroad, but never at the expense of
three things; never at the expense of our national security,
nor in the face of egregious and appalling human rights
violations abroad, and nor at the cost of the American workers
here at home. Those are the three pillars of things we must not
But as the global markets recover, we are presented with a
fortuitous opportunity of recognizing the mistakes of the past
and strengthening American standards as the prime engine of
global economic development. We must encourage a rising tide
where economic growth coincides with increased living standards
and greater democracy. We must eliminate technical barriers to
trade and tariffs on U.S. goods, and we must protect
intellectual property as well as human rights and the rights of
So, as we gather here today, I think the fundamental
question that we have before us was best phrased a few
centuries ago by our good friend William Shakespeare, who said,
To be or not to be, that is the question. To have Jackson-Vanik
or not have Jackson-Vanik, that is the question before us
today. What would be the impact if we have it; what is the
impact if we remove it in terms of our Russian relations?
Then, finally, I think we have another opportunity to, in
the words of the great Humphrey Bogart from the movie
Casablanca--as the movie ends, if you recall, he puts his arm
around the captain and he says, ``Louis, I think we have the
beginning of a wonderful friendship.'' That is what we have
here in the possibilities with Russia.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Delahunt. I want to thank the gentleman for his
eloquence and his remembering that great American Humphrey
With that, let me go to the ranking member, the gentleman
from California Mr. Royce.
Mr. Royce. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Jackson-Vanik helped millions by promoting freedom of
immigration and other freedoms. It is indelibly written into
the history of United States-Soviet relations. To ask whether
it is useful is no slight to its great legacy.
Some argue that Jackson-Vanik's continued application to
Russia is a major diplomatic impediment. It impedes cooperation
on the Iran policies, some say. That is an oversell. Russia,
unfortunately, appears determined to accommodate Iran, a policy
that will eventually bite it, Jackson-Vanik or not. On the
other hand, I don't see Russia's bad Iran policy or our other
foreign policy and trade concerns with Moscow as strong reasons
to maintain Jackson-Vanik.
This legislation addresses specific circumstances, and
fortunately, while Russia suffers many human rights problems,
problems this administration is largely silent on, there is
freedom to emigrate from Russia.
When it comes to big disputes, and we have several with
Russia, I don't see how Jackson-Vanik has much of a chit.
Jackson-Vanik could be maintained while continuing to determine
that Russia isn't impeding emigration, as has been done for 16
years, but there is something advantageous here in us
recognizing that this area has improved and put Russia with
almost every other country that isn't subject to Jackson-Vanik,
including oppressive China.
Russians, including Russian democrats, resent being
targeted by this annual review, especially when some in
Congress link Jackson-Vanik status to unrelated issues that can
be addressed differently. Linking Jackson-Vanik to poultry
trade disputes, for example, can't strengthen our ability to
push human rights in Russia.
I look forward to hearing the wide range of views here
today, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you for calling this hearing.
Mr. Delahunt. I thank the gentleman.
Now my other colleague from California, the chairman of the
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Mr.
Mr. Sherman. Mr. Chairman, you are surrounded by
Mr. Delahunt. I noticed.
Mr. Sherman. In any case, I am a little less enthusiastic
about repealing Jackson-Vanik or failing to apply it in the
manner that has prevented Russia from joining the WTO. That
doesn't mean I couldn't reach that conclusion, it is just that
I lack the bubbling enthusiasm of some of my colleagues.
I do not think that we have seen a real reset in our
relationship with Russia. It is true in supplying Afghanistan,
we can fly over their airspace, but we have air bases in newly
independent former Soviet republics which are critical to
dealing with Afghanistan and which Russia tries to undermine
and expel at every turn.
While Russia may eventually reluctantly agree to some sort
of sanctions on Iran at the United Nations, you can be sure
that they will be so tiny as to have no meaningful effect on
Iran's economy, let alone any meaningful possibility of causing
Iran to change its nuclear policy.
We concluded the START negotiations. Doing so was perhaps
good for the world. It also was a chance for Russia to stand
side by side with the United States as coequal world
superpowers, an honor that they don't enjoy near as often as
they did before the fall of the Soviet Union.
Now, I believe that the only way we can really improve
Russia's behavior is by offering concessions on things that
Russia really cares about. Jackson-Vanik is just one of the
many things that we could offer.
Now, I am a man of faith, but I do not believe in a faith-
based foreign policy. When it comes to making concessions to
Russia, whether it be Jackson-Vanik or anything else, we should
trust but verify. More particularly, we should get explicit--
sometimes private, but at least explicit--clear agreements for
meaningful steps taken by Russia in return for the steps taken
by the United States.
Now, high-level Russian diplomats have repeatedly requested
that we ``graduate'' them from Jackson-Vanik or eliminate
Jackson-Vanik. Whichever device is used would be the same for
Russia. They have described it as notorious in the Russian
press. Boris Yeltsin once joked that every kid in Russia knows
the names of Jackson and Vanik, and none of them particularly
like either gentleman.
This Jackson-Vanik modification is critical to Russia
joining the World Trade Organization. Their efforts have been
greatly complicated by the fact that we do not have permanent
and unconditional normal trade relations or most-favored-nation
status with them, and that is as a result of Jackson-Vanik.
Both President Putin and President Medvedev have argued in
favor of their country joining the World Trade Organization,
acknowledging that their country's inability to join the WTO
has stunted the Russian economy and made it less competitive.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the change the
United States would experience from Russia's graduation in
terms of our trading relationship would be minimal. Russian
imports have entered the United States on a constantly renewed
normal trade relations basis since 1992. So this is not
primarily a balance of payments issue or even a jobs issue,
this is a foreign policy issue.
Now, I have often said and that I would like to see a grand
bargain with Russia in which we would tender concessions not
only on Jackson-Vanik, but on other issues of importance to
Russia; that we would listen carefully and perhaps modify our
positions with regard to such issues as Acacia, South Ossetia
and Moldova. But this major grand bargain would have to be in
return for truly crippling, immediate mandatory United Nations
sanctions on Iran. The State Department isn't even talking
about such sanctions, so it seems unlikely that our State
Department is going to negotiate a grand bargain worthy of the
Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons should be
our number one foreign policy objective. I do not expect Russia
to massively change its policy toward Iran just on the Jackson-
Vanik issue alone, and I don't think that it is credible for us
to say the only thing we are willing to change is Jackson-
Vanik, and we are waiting for Russia to vote for massive and
crippling sanctions on Iran.
So, our purpose here at these hearings is to focus on
Jackson-Vanik as perhaps the sole immediate concession that we
are willing to offer the Russian side. If we do so, we--as
others have noted, it can be said that Moscow is in compliance
with the purpose of Jackson-Vanik, which was to allow chiefly
Soviet Jews to emigrate. But while the Jews of the Soviet Union
are no longer being held hostage, their sacred papers are, and
this is clearly something that needs to be dealt with before we
change Jackson-Vanik. I refer to the Schneerson collection of
books and archives, which are sacred chiefly to those Jews in
the Chabad or Lubavitch movement.
Without objection, I will put into the record the many
letters that I have sent to such Russian leaders as Vladimir
Putin, which I have hand-delivered at the Russian Embassy to
the Ambassador, which I have handed to virtually every Russian
dignitary who has come to the United States and visited Capitol
Hill since 2004. And when I didn't personally hand these
letters to them, my good friend Dana Rohrabacher did. I want to
note also for the record that I have never received a response.
I did hear third-hand a rumor that the Russian response
would, after 6 years, be that they seem to have some procedural
defenses usable in both Russian and perhaps even American
courts, but not a single word has been uttered as to why as a
matter of justice the Russian state should retain these
documents sacred to the Chabad movement, in particular, the
Schneerson collection of papers divided between the Schneerson
Archives and the Schneerson Library.
Let me focus chiefly for today on the Archives. These were
legally removed from the Soviet Union in the 1920s by Rabbi
Schneerson. They were seized by the Nazis and then fell into
the hands of the Red Army. It is well established that assets
seized by the Nazis should be returned to their rightful
owners, and yet the Red Army and the Soviet state continues to
hold these Archives.
Contrast that to the fact that certain Russian archives,
chiefly the Smolensk Archives, fell into American hands, I
believe, after being captured by the Nazis. It took us a while,
but in 2002, we returned these documents to the Russian state.
It is disappointing that this unilateral concession, this
return of important papers, was not matched by the return of
the Schneerson documents to the Chabad movement.
Now, it is said that Jackson-Vanik has achieved its
purpose. Jews are no longer being held hostage. But the sacred
papers of the Chabad community are still held hostage.
Tom Lantos in April 2007 declared that while he was
chairman, Jackson-Vanik would not be lifted unless the
Schneerson collection was returned to the Chabad movement. I
cannot make that pledge quite as strong because I am not
chairman of the full committee, but I will pledge to work hard
to make sure that Tom Lantos' pledge remains viable, and that,
having returned the Smolensk Archives, we should not be asked
to sweep away Jackson-Vanik until not only the people, but the
sacred documents are also released.
I yield back.
Mr. Delahunt. I thank my friend.
I now go to the gentleman from California, the ranking
member on the Subcommittee on Oversight, Mr. Rohrabacher.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and
thank you for calling this hearing and following up on
discussions that we have had with people, with our counterparts
in Russia, who are sincerely trying to develop a better
relationship with us.
It was very difficult to explain to them why Jackson-Vanik
is still on the books. I see one of our witnesses, my old
friend Ambassador Steve Sestanovich, who worked with me during
the Reagan White House. He worked there during the time when I
remember Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, and there was
considerable debate about what he should be saying, but when
Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, he said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down
this wall. That was a long time ago. You look great for all
these years, Steve.
But the fact is, Mr. Chairman, that was a long time ago,
and so much has happened. So I would ask my fellow colleagues
to join me; when it comes to Jackson-Vanik, let's tear down
this wall. It is about time that the relic, this ancient relic
of the Cold War, be discarded. That doesn't mean we don't have
issues between us, but let's take this off the table, because
it is an impediment to negotiations and honest talks about
setting up a better relationship between our countries.
This is especially true when one realizes that today what
you have in Russia is, yes, an imperfect democratic society. We
can talk about the imperfections all day long. We happen to
have a lot of imperfections in our society as well. However,
there are some demonstrable things that need to be better in
Russia. But, by and large, when you go to Russia, as compared
to when I went to Russia in 1984, the churches are filled in
Russia. In fact, the Russian people are very religious people
compared to many other people in the world.
You go there and you hear criticism of the government in
Russia. There are opposition parties. Yes, they complain they
didn't get permits to do this or that, but there are opposition
parties, and their voice is heard, and they get to have
demonstrations. There are actually opposition newspapers. You
hear people on radio complaining about the administration.
Now, there are some problems that we would like to point
out, things that were done that we wouldn't have liked to have
seen done in terms of some of the communications industry, but
by and large there has been an overwhelming reform that has
gone on in Russia in these last 30 years since Jackson-Vanik
was put into place, an overwhelming reform that is so visible
and so apparent. People are free to travel now where they
weren't permitted to travel. Not only were they not permitted
to travel, they could be shot trying to get over the fence back
in the 1980s.
We still have Jackson-Vanik, and we have not opened up the
economic and political cooperation that we need to develop the
kind of close relationship that would be beneficial to our
Let's just note this: At the same time while we are keeping
these relics from the Cold War on the table, we have provided
China with most-favored-nation status, permanent most-favored-
nation status. We have provided China continued access to our
markets. There has been transfers of technology. There has been
major investments. We have built the Chinese economy, and there
hasn't been one iota of political reform in China.
For us to complain about the shortcomings of Russia while
permitting this massive buildup of the Chinese economy that is
now ruled by a government that has had none of this reform is
so contradictory that we can see why perhaps the Russians are
confused whether or not we want them to be our friends or not.
Well, if we are to have peace in this world, if we are to
have prosperity in this world, if Americans are going to be
secure, we have got to have a good relationship with Russia.
Whether it is combating radical Islam, or whether it is
confronting the Frankenstein monster of a totalitarian China
emerging on the world scene, either one of these things that
are great threats to us, we need Russia on our side. We need to
start treating them fairly and be rational and quit having
things like Jackson-Vanik, relics of the Cold War, around to be
impediments to developing a better relationship.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
I think the final member on our Democratic side who wants
to make a comment is also from California, Congresswoman Diane
But, Diane, before I recognize you, I just want to note for
the record, and I know that Brad Sherman possibly had a private
conversation, and I will let him identify the conversation with
Mr. Lantos, but I would be remiss not to note that on February
21st, 2007, over Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, it was
reported that U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos had called for an end
to a decades-old U.S. restriction on trade with Russia.
Speaking in Moscow, Lantos called the 1974 Jackson-Vanik
amendment a relic of the Cold War and vowed to spare no effort
in seeking its removal.
So, we have somewhat of a disagreement, but I wanted to
read that for the record.
I now call on Congresswoman Watson.
Mr. Sherman. Diane, if I could just speak for 1 minute?
Mr. Delahunt. You will still have all the time you need.
Mr. Sherman. I have no doubt that in February 2007, Tom
Lantos wanted to see us repeal Jackson-Vanik. He then met with
people concerned about the Schneerson collection in April 2007,
and that is when he took the position that, of course, he would
like to see Jackson-Vanik abolished, but only when these papers
are turned over. I think he and I would have thought then that
this would be a relatively simple matter.
These papers are providing no particular benefit to Russia.
It is like the dog on top of the pile of hay chasing every
other animal away. The dog is not going to eat the hay. He is
just there because the cow wants it.
I also would point out--and I know the title of this
hearing says that maybe Jackson-Vanik is a relic of history--
not all relics of history should be swept into the dust bin of
history. The U.S. ownership of Alaska is a relic of the Lincoln
I yield back.
Mr. Delahunt. I thank the gentleman and will agree, if he
so chooses, since the Subcommittee on Europe would have
jurisdiction, we would be happy to call for a separate hearing
on the Schneerson Papers and accommodate your concerns.
Having said that, let me now recognize the gentlelady from
California Ms. Watson.
Ms. Watson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was there with
Congressman Lantos when he made that statement, and I got the
feeling that we should support it. And I think Mr. Rohrabacher
was maybe traveling with us at the time.
Past U.S. Presidents have continued to determine that
Russia has been in full compliance with Title IV of the Trade
Act of 1974 since September 1994. The Congress has not given
any President the authority to repeal Jackson-Vanik. However,
it is important to recognize the responsibility that we as
policymakers have to consider any consequences of possible
trade injury repealing Jackson-Vanik would cause the U.S.
I am so pleased to hear you say, Mr. Chairman, that we will
have a subsequent hearing on this issue. I think it is very
important to look at it from both sides. But I was very pleased
with the atmosphere that we got from the members of their
Parliament and the openness that was not there when I first
went to Russia in the 1960s. So we do need to really just
deeply ask this question and weigh it.
So I look forward to listening to the panel, and I thank
them for appearing before the committee.
I yield back.
Mr. Delahunt. I thank the gentlelady.
Now we come to the important part of the afternoon, which
is to listen to our distinguished witnesses. Let me begin by
introducing Ed Verona. By the way, you all have extensive
resumes, and I will shorten them and just pick out the
Ed Verona was appointed president and CEO of the U.S.-
Russia Business Council on June 1, 2008. Prior to that, he was
the vice president of ExxonMobil Russia. In August, he was
based in Moscow. He has a B.A. in political science from the
University of Arizona and a master's of international
management from the American Graduate School of Global
Next we have will Mark Levin. Mark Levin has been the
executive director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry
since 1992. In November 2008, Mr. Levin was the Soviet Jewry
Freedom Award recipient at the Boston-based Russian Jewish
Community Foundation's annual gala. In September 2008,
Ukrainian President Yushchenko awarded him the Order of Merit
Medal in New York, and in June 2006, he was honored for 25
years of distinguished service with NCJS here in Washington. He
has an extensive background. Prior to coming to NCJS, he worked
with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and he is a
graduate of the University of Maryland.
Ambassador Sestanovich is the George Kennan Senior fellow
for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations, and the Kathryn and Shelby Davis professor of
international diplomacy at Columbia University. His particular
areas of expertise are Russia and the former Soviet Union, the
Caucasus and Central Asia, and U.S. foreign policy. He served
as Ambassador-at-Large and special adviser to the Secretary of
State for the New Independent States from 1997 to 2001. In this
capacity, he was the State Department's principal officer
responsible for policy tours to states of the former Soviet
Union. He has his Ph.D. from Harvard and his B.A. from Cornell.
He has written numerous books.
Next we have Dr. Edward Lozansky, who is the president of
the American University in Moscow, the first private university
in Russia, which he founded in 1990 with Dr. Yuri Ossipian, at
that time Gorbachev's science advisor, and Gavriil Popov,
former mayor of Moscow. He is also founder and president of the
World Russian Forum, an annual convention here in the U.S.
Congress since 1981, to discuss the most important issues in
the United States-Russia relationship and to promote the idea
of an United States-Russian strategic alliance. He graduated
from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Engineering, and
received his Ph.D. in theoretical and mathematical physics from
the Moscow Institute of Atomic Energy. He is the author of 14
books and over 400 articles in the areas of science and
humanities. He is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of
Mark Talisman was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He
graduated from Harvard with honors. For 14 years he was the
chief of staff to the coauthor of the Jackson-Vanik amendment,
Congressman Charles Vanik. He is the founding director of the
Washington, DC, office of the Council of Jewish Federations. He
is married with two children and two grandchildren.
Next we have David Satter. He is a senior fellow at the
Hudson Institute and a fellow in the Foreign Policy Institute
of the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International
Studies. He was the Moscow correspondent for the Financial
Times of London from 1976 to 1982. He has written on Russia and
the former Soviet Union for more than three decades. He
contributes frequently on Russian affairs to the editorial page
of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and National Review Online.
He is presently completing a new book about the Russian
attitude toward the Communist past.
We will begin with Mr. Verona.
STATEMENT OF MR. EDWARD S. VERONA, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF
EXECUTIVE OFFICER, U.S.-RUSSIA BUSINESS COUNCIL
Mr. Verona. Thank you very much, Chairman Delahunt. Thank
you for the honor of allowing me to testify here today on a
subject which is of vital importance to the organization which
I have the privilege to lead.
The USRBC represents approximately 250 companies, 80
percent of which are American, with the remainder being Russian
and from third countries. Our membership encompasses a broad
swath of industries, with companies ranging in size from those
in the Fortune 100 to small consultancies and nonprofit
organizations. They are leaders in the aerospace, automotive,
consumers goods, high-tech and financial services sectors,
Our members employ a substantial number of U.S. citizens,
who produce manufactured goods, develop and market advanced
technologies, create entertainment products and provide
financial and other services to one of the fastest-growing
emerging-market economies. During most of the past decade, our
U.S. member companies found Russia to be one of their most
lucrative global markets, with many seeing annual growth rates
in sales and revenues of over 20 percent.
Indeed, the growth in U.S.-Russia trade has been nothing
short of remarkable over most of the past decade, from $9
billion in 2001 to $36 billion in 2008. Before the global
recession hit in the latter half of 2008, our bilateral trade
was on track to exceed $40 billion that year. While still
modest in terms of overall U.S. trade, this volume represents a
fourfold increase over the 2001-2008 period.
U.S. exports to Russia, which comprise about a third of the
total, are, for the most part, high-value-added goods that have
provided skilled jobs for American workers and have earned
American brands a solid reputation in Russia for quality.
We believe that the potential for increasing U.S. exports
to Russia is much greater than the levels already achieved.
With the global economic and trade recovery now underway, and
with the return of economic growth in Russia, we anticipate a
gradual resumption of growth in bilateral trade.
Unlike their counterparts in most developed markets,
Russian consumers are coming out of this recession relatively
debt free and, therefore, more likely to resume purchasing
patterns of the past, including many iconic American brand
products which they equate with a better quality of life, and
our member companies are ready to take advantage of that
I mention the foregoing since I believe it is useful to
establish why U.S. business has a stake in the question that
has been posted by this panel: Is it time to repeal the
Jackson-Vanik amendment for Russia?
On the basis of the Trade Act of 1974, with regard to
restrictions on immigration from the Soviet Union, it would
appear that the main reason for that legislation was a
situation that no longer pertains in the case of Russia. In
fact, every U.S. President, as previously mentioned here, since
1994 has found Russia to be in compliance with the emigration
provisions of the amendment and has waived its application to
The late Congressman Tom Lantos, now cited several times,
who for years was one of the leading proponents of the
amendment, said, as Chairman Delahunt has mentioned, shortly
before he died that it was time to put behind us this relic of
the Cold War, and he would spare no effort to bring that about.
With respect to the other condition of the Jackson-Vanik
amendment, namely the absence of a market economy, I would only
note that the United States has officially recognized the
Russian Federation as a market economy since 2002. It is hard
to argue today in favor of maintaining Jackson-Vanik on the
ground of either condition, emigration restrictions or the lack
of a market economy. On the other hand, it is becoming
increasingly obvious that the continued application of this
amendment is undermining American efforts to encourage Russia
to move toward a society and an economic system based on the
rule of law.
Three consecutive United States administrations have urged
Russia to adopt and uphold internationally accepted standards
of jurisprudence and advocated Russia's membership in rules-
based international financial and trade organizations. Yet in
the case of Jackson-Vanik, we appear to twist the
interpretation and implementation of our own law. The State
Department has attested in numerous annual human rights reports
that Russia does not restrict emigration on the basis of
religious or ethnic identity.
The United States also supports Russia's accession to the
WTO. Failure on our part to reflect in our trade legislation
the fundamental changes that have occurred since the enactment
of Jackson-Vanik would appear to contradict the findings and
policy positions of our own government.
There are some who argue that we should not give something
to Russia in return for nothing. Seen from Russia's
perspective, this amounts to shifting the goalposts. It raises
doubts about U.S. adherence to the letter and intent of the
law, and sets a precedent of spurious reciprocity that Russia
could exploit to its advantages in other circumstances.
Keeping Jackson-Vanik on the books as bargaining leverage,
which demonstrably it no longer affords, engenders cynicism and
resentment and complicates efforts to establish a normal
relationship with Russia.
The USRBC acts as the Secretariat for the Coalition for
U.S.-Russia Trade, an organization representing more than 60
companies and trade associations who stand ready to advocate
congressional graduation of Russia from the provisions of the
Jackson-Vanik amendment and adoption of permanent normal trade
relations with us once that country enters the WTO. Within the
coalition are companies that have concerns about a number of
trade issues with respect to Russia. Specifically there are
questions about Russia's implementation and enforcement of
intellectual property rights, about lapses in following
science-based regulatory standards for imported poultry and
pork products, and about the selective imposition of import
tariffs against U.S. manufacturers.
These and other critically important issues for business
are being addressed in Geneva through negotiations on Russia's
WTO accession. That is the appropriate venue, and the WTO is
the appropriate instrument for ensuring Russian conformity with
international trade rules.
When Russia eventually enters the WTO on the basis of a
commercially meaningful agreement, the United States will be
prevented from enjoying the benefits of greater market access
to Russia if we have not in the interim lifted Jackson-Vanik.
This is a prerequisite to granting PNTR, without which we will
be in violation of WTO rules and, therefore, at a disadvantage
to the other nations who will compete against us to sell goods
and services to the vibrant Russian market which I described
before. The result would be fewer American jobs as export
opportunities are lost.
In our recommendations to the Obama administration in
January 2009, the USRBC urged the administration to rescind
Jackson-Vanik without prior condition as a gesture of goodwill
to Russia and as a way to create momentum for the reset of the
My experience convinces me that the Jackson-Vanik amendment
has had no dissuasive or positive effect on Russia's trade or
domestic economic policies. Rather, it has served as a
convenient pretext for Russia failing to take the steps
necessary to bring itself into compliance with the rules-based
trading community. I believe, therefore, that it is a relic of
a bygone era, and that it is time for the United States to
remove its applicability to Russia.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Verona follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Mr. Verona.
STATEMENT OF MR. MARK B. LEVIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON SOVIET JEWRY
Mr. Levin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would ask that my
full statement be admitted into the record, and I will
Mr. Delahunt. Without objection.
Mr. Levin. Since 1971, the NCJS has represented nearly 50
national Jewish organizations. They include the Anti-Defamation
League, B'nai B'rith International, Hadassah and AIPAC, as well
as hundreds of local Jewish community councils, committees and
federations across the country.
2010 marks the 30th anniversary of my professional
involvement with NCJS. I made my first trip to Russia in 1982
when I led a congressional delegation that met with Soviet
officials and Jewish activists. I have worked on Jackson-Vanik
issues since the start of my tenure with NCJS.
The cause of free emigration is personally and
professionally very important to me. It heartens me to see
former Soviet bloc countries rejoin the community of free
nations. Several of these countries have already graduated from
Jackson-Vanik requirements in recent years, most recently
Ukraine in 2006.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to
summarize our basic points. First, NCJS supports the graduation
of the Russian Federation from the Jackson-Vanik amendments;
graduation, not repeal of the amendment. The Russian Federation
has fulfilled the requirements of the Jackson-Vanik
legislation, and we believe that the administration and
Congress should move forward on graduation for Russia. This
development would be a key step forward for Russia and for the
Second, we base our position on the undeniable fact that
Russia today allows free emigration for all of its citizens,
something that was denied to them during the 74 years of Soviet
Also I wish to note, as you did, Mr. Chairman, that there
are no longer any visa tourist requirements between Russia and
Israel. Russia's Jewish community has undergone nothing short
of a renaissance over the last 20 years. Synagogues, day
schools, community centers and kosher restaurants are now open
in many large Russian cities. Over 1 million Russian-speaking
Jews have emigrated to Israel, the United States and elsewhere
since 1991. All of these facts are true indicators of Russia's
satisfaction of Jackson-Vanik requirements and a testament to
the amendment's extraordinary success in helping to secure
freedom of emigration for Russian Jews and others wishing to
emigrate from Russia.
NCSJ has supported a Presidential Jackson-Vanik waiver for
Russia since 1991. We worked closely with President George W.
Bush to promote Russia's graduation starting in 2001. In 2009,
President Barack Obama said that graduating Russia from
Jackson-Vanik would be a foreign policy priority for his
administration, something that we recommended during the
Given the progress made by Russia in observing freedom of
movement since the fall of communism, we continue to press for
Russia's graduation. The United States Government has granted
Russia an exemption from Jackson-Vanik requirements by a
Presidential compliance determination every year since 1994.
This was something that was done with our strong endorsement.
After 16 years of proven compliance, the time has come to
graduate Russia from the amendment. Mr. Chairman, almost all
major Russian Jewish organizations strongly support graduating
Russia from Jackson-Vanik. This is one of the best arguments I
can make in favor of graduation. The U.S. Congress created the
Jackson-Vanik amendment with the plight of the Soviet Jewish
community in mind. This community, now Russian, no longer
Soviet, says today these requirements are no longer needed.
This does not excuse the Russian Government from addressing
the very real problems in the Russian Federation that still
confront its Jewish communities and others. First, I would like
to note anti-Semitic incidents continue across the country.
Secondly, the rise of ultraviolent, nationalistic skinhead and
neo-Nazi youth groups is a very troubling phenomenon, as is the
Russian Government's inconsistent prosecution of hate crimes.
And lastly, certain aspects of the 1997 law on religion, which
requires registration of religious organizations in communities
with the authorities, continue to be a problem.
NCSJ will keep engaging the Russian Government strongly and
persistently on these and other problematic areas in the human
rights field. We meet regularly with Russian officials in the
United States and Russia and the international fora to make our
position known. We have raised our general concern over human
rights in Russia at every level of Russia's Government.
We laud the praiseworthy attempt of Senator Jackson and
Congressman Vanik and their congressional colleagues who
crafted this groundbreaking legislation nearly 40 years ago as
a sign of America's commitment to freedom of emigration and
religion worldwide, and now we think it is time to move forward
and recognize the profound changes for the better that have
taken place in Russia and in Russia's Jewish community.
Jackson-Vanik was instrumental in creating the opportunity
for Jews and others throughout the former Soviet Union to move
freely and to find new ways to express their identity. The
United States' reset in relations with Russia offers a similar
potential for progress in ways we did not imagine just 20 years
NCSJ and our member organizations are working to keep
Russia's Jewish revival going. We want to ensure that the
freedom to leave remains in place in Russia and elsewhere, and
that those who decide to stay can continue to build their
communities. NCSJ looks forward to continuing to work with
Congress on these vital issues.
And, Mr. Chairman, again, our position is to support
graduation, not repeal of the legislation. We believe that
Jackson-Vanik is not a relic; we believe that Jackson-Vanik is
a testament to America's commitment to freedom, and that
Jackson-Vanik is one of the great success stories of post-World
War II in relationship to American foreign policy. P.
Mr. Chairman, lastly, I just want to thank you again for
this opportunity and look forward to working with you and
others on the subcommittees.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Levin follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Mr. Levin.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE STEPHEN SESTANOVICH, GEORGE F.
KENNAN SENIOR FELLOW FOR RUSSIAN AND EURASIAN STUDIES, COUNCIL
ON FOREIGN RELATIONS (FORMER AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE AND SPECIAL
ADVISER TO THE SECRETARY FOR THE NEW INDEPENDENT STATES)
Ambassador Sestanovich. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I
appreciate the opportunity to join in today's discussion. I
have a fuller statement that I hope can be included in the
Mr. Delahunt. Without objection.
Ambassador Sestanovich. The Jackson-Vanik amendment has a
proud and honorable past, but it has sunk into a state of
purposelessness and confusion. It once symbolized American
human rights concerns and facilitated the free emigration of
hundreds of thousands of people. Today it remains on the books
for reasons that have nothing to do with free emigration, which
Russia has allowed for years. Instead, many Members of Congress
seem to believe that keeping the amendment in force can assure
better treatment of American products in the Russian market.
This transformation of landmark human rights legislation
into a trade weapon is dispiriting to many people, but there is
no avoiding it. The Jackson-Vanik amendment is inextricably
intertwined today with disputes about meat and poultry and
other American exports. No proposal for how to deal with it is
likely to succeed unless it also takes commercial interest into
account. That is why the default policy of many on Jackson-
Vanik of both Republican and Democratic administrations has
been to do nothing until accession to the WTO, Russia's
accession to the World Trade Organization, is included.
Congress would then be expected to pass a resolution that
graduates Russia; that is, that declares the amendment no
longer applies to it.
Russia's actions over the past year, including new
restrictions on American exports, and Prime Minister Putin's
mishandling of negotiations with the WTO, have reinforced this
default strategy. Nevertheless, waiting for WTO accession
before graduation has several drawbacks. It means that Congress
will not act until it has no choice but to approve the final
result. It means that if accession talks drag on, American
exporters will remain vulnerable to arbitrary restrictions
imposed on them by the Russian bureaucracy. And most
importantly, it dodges the key task that the U.S. Government
will face after graduation: How to advance the original goals
of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which apply not only to free
emigration, but to human rights.
Today there are some signs that Russian policymakers
understand how unsustainable and counterproductive their
handling of trade policy has been. If the next few months bring
signs of a new Russian approach, Congress should be prepared to
devise a new approach as well, one that advances both American
commercial interests as well as Jackson-Vanik's original
concern. Here is how it might work.
The core element of a new approach would, of course,
involve a willingness to graduate Russia from the coverage of
the law, but it would include other elements as well. Congress
might require side letters fully explaining the
administration's view of remaining accession problems. Congress
will want firm and specific commitments about how the
administration intends to address these problems. Congress
should also require before voting on graduation that the
administration set out its future strategy for addressing
issues of human rights, democracy promotion and engagement with
Russian civil society. The resolution that graduates Russia
from Jackson-Vanik might also provide for delay in taking
effect until Russia's full accession to the WTO, but graduation
would happen automatically unless both Houses of Congress voted
for a resolution of disapproval. If such a resolution passed,
the status quo would be restored; that is, normal trading
relations but not permanent normal trading relations.
Compared to the current strategy of waiting for the WTO to
complete the process of accession, this approach would serve
American interests in three important respects. First,
economic: By confirming that PNTR would take effect
automatically with WTO accession, it would add to Russian
incentives to drop its neoprotectionist measures. Second,
political: It would reinforce the so-called reset of Russian-
American relations and highlight the economic benefits that
President Medvedev has said he is looking for from it. It would
also highlight how little Russia has otherwise done to put
aside the preoccupations of the Cold War. Finally, this
approach would focus the attention of both Congress and the
administration on the key issue that led to the adoption of the
Jackson-Vanik amendment in the first place, the evolution of
Russia's own political and legal system.
The United States cannot expect to advance its interest in
Russia's democratic evolution in the same way that we did in
the 1970s and 1980s when Congressman Rohrabacher and I worked
together. We need a modernized strategy, one that reflects both
the dramatic changes that have taken place inside Russia and
those that have not. The administration has some interesting
ideas in this regard, and some of them have begun to be put
into practice. Congress can help to consolidate and
institutionalize these innovations by making them part of the
process of graduation.
The Jackson-Vanik amendment no longer offers us an
effective policy. The task of Congress is to use graduation to
refocus our strategy on the importance of Russia's continuing
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sestanovich follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Ambassador.
STATEMENT OF EDWARD D. LOZANSKY, PH.D., FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT,
WORLD RUSSIA FORUM
Mr. Lozansky. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also have a full
statement which I would like to add to the record.
My short answer to the subject of this panel is very clear
and unequivocal: This graduation is absolutely necessary and is
long overdue. I think it had to be done almost 20 years ago
when communism collapsed and the new country which emerged from
the ruins of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation, has
lifted all restrictions not only on citizens' rights for
emigration and travel, but even such term as ``exit visa'' has
been eliminated from the judicial vocabulary.
On this distinguished panel I probably am the only one who
benefited personally from the Jackson-Vanik amendment since I
was separated from my family for more than 6 years, and I
believe that, due to the Jackson-Vanik amendment, eventually my
wife and child were able to come to the United States and join
me here--by the way, my wife is here with me, and we have now
three grandchildren. So I can--from a personal experience--tell
you that when she came, we personally thanked Senator Jackson.
We came to Congress. We met Senator Jackson, Senator Kennedy
and over 100 Members of Congress who signed a petition to Mr.
Brezhnev to release my wife and child and come here.
So it was a great thing, but every political initiative,
every political move has some time limits, and the time is now
to graduate Russia from this amendment because it serves no
purpose. All the requirements which were demanded are
fulfilled. Russians--not only Jews, but every Russian citizen--
could now travel back and forth. And it is interesting that
even Jews who emigrated to Israel and the United States or
Canada or other countries go back and forth, and some of them
return. Some of them still live in Israel and the United
States, but do business and actually benefit from their
contacts in both countries. And the Jackson-Vanik amendment
actually makes a problem for them, because every time Russians
ask them what is going on, why we still have this Jackson-Vanik
on the book if you go back and forth.
And I have to say that even there is no state anti-Semitism
in Russia anymore, the Jackson-Vanik amendment maybe is the
reason for some people expressing anti-Semitic views because
they see it as a Jewish problem which creates a problem for
United States-Russia relations.
Also, freedom of the press was not really a part of the
Jackson-Vanik amendment, still it is very important to think
about democracy. And we keep hearing that there is no freedom
of the press in Russia. This is not so. I go back and forth all
the time. In fact, I am now teaching even a course at Moscow
State University. Yes, three major channels are under
government control, but there are hundreds, or maybe even not
thousands, of TV channels which are free and operate as private
Moreover, interesting--and I don't think that too many
people in this audience know that, except Russian experts--that
there are sites, Internet sites, which are freely accessible to
Russians, no restrictions, no censorship; have government-
funded sites which translate articles, even most critical
articles about Putin, about Medvedev in Russia. So every
Russian citizen has access not only to information with Russian
newspapers, but also to American media. And including, of
course, critical articles of my colleague, David Satter,
Russians can read them openly on the Internet. And now we know
that close to 40 or even 50 percent of Russians have access. So
there is freedom of the press to this extent. It isn't perfect,
but it exists.
I already mentioned that I am teaching a course now at
Moscow State University on U.S.-Russian relations. I can say
anything I want, no restrictions. Moreover, I am inviting on
Skype American experts who can also address Russian students
and tell them their position. And some of them are pretty
critical, and there is a lively discussion. But after each
lecture students keep asking, why are you keeping this Jackson-
Vanik amendment in the books, because we don't know why you are
doing this, because if on one hand you are saying that you want
better relations, but then this amendment actually ruins
chances for better U.S.-Russian cooperation.
As an example: Many American think tanks now who have
offices in Moscow, I happen to share my office of American
University in Moscow on the same floor as Heritage Foundation.
Everyone knows that the Heritage Foundation is very critical of
Russian policy and of Vladimir Putin and President Medvedev and
everyone else. Still they can say anything they want. They have
access to the media, access to public opinion and including, by
the way, the Foundation, they also have offices in one of the
most prestigious places, Moscow Pushkin Square. They have
regular seminars, discussions. They have visitors from the
So Russia is a free country. Yes, it is not perfect
democracy in the American sense of the word, but it is free
We are now talking about the Jackson-Vanik amendment. It is
a very narrow issue. If the United States lifts and graduates
Russia from this amendment, I believe it will be a tremendous
boost to the United States-Russian cooperation in many issues,
including Iran, including nuclear nonproliferation, terrorism,
and many other issues which the United States faces. That is
why I really urge all Members of Congress both to graduate
Russia from this amendment as soon as possible and had to be
done 20 years ago. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lozansky follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Doctor.
And now Mr. Talisman.
STATEMENT OF MR. MARK TALISMAN, PRESIDENT, PROJECT JUDAICA
Mr. Talisman. Thanks, Mr. Chairman. I really appreciated
Mr. Scott's lyrical and cultural references to start a hearing.
We should have done that years ago at the Ways and Means
Committee. It would have lightened things a little. And also a
number of other things which I want to touch on which you have
brought up which enhance the record statement that I made,
which I hope will be inserted appropriately.
Mr. Delahunt. Without objection.
Mr. Talisman. Jackson-Vanik was an idea that I didn't even
think was going to work when Charlie Vanik and I were talking
about it. You should note that--and this is the place I can say
it now, in the record officially where he lived for so long--
that he went on his own personal codel in December 1971 and
wouldn't even allow me to accompany him on the back of a Harley
in black leather to tour Mother Russia. And it was during that
time the effects of a travel ban and education ban were put in
This was a Catholic kid raised in Cleveland. I knew his
parents, his mother, very well. And engrained in him, as with
your constituents up in Massachusetts, was what I called Bible
talk as street language, not for special favors from the
Church. And he saw the antithetical activities going on the
ground, and he came back absolutely outraged. And I spent my
moment in hell on bread and water at the Congressional Reading
Room finding a precedent. Until I found it, I was not released.
And I found it in a little book from Mr. Orbach, a nice green
little volume of precedents of some sort with two tsars, with
Abraham Lincoln and our other professor, Professor Wilson, in
1912, with suspension of American trade with both because of
pogroms not only against the Jewish population, but within the
embassies where there were Jews serving their country and got
beat up when they left the embassy grounds. So it was not new
in our body politic.
The Vanik amendment died with the session. And then came
1972, which was a huge tidal wave of all sorts of mixed
emotions, needless to say, because while Mr. Nixon was among
the brightest Presidents we had among our folk on the other
side of the aisle, he was not a guy you wanted to travel to
Russia with. So as a consequence, when that bond took place,
and the opening came there and in China, and Scoop Jackson did
his thing and we did for 18 months before the Senate could
act--and that is very important, because that was 18 months
hanging in space as to whether this concept would work. The
kind of activities that are represented here at the table at
much later years that engendered a huge swell of activity for
something brand new in terms of citizen action at a precinct
level all over this country makes me have to say, Mr.
Rohrabacher, that we are offended personally at the notion--and
I mean this not personally--of talking about the antique nature
of this relic, because that makes me much older than I feel.
And--and--I can name you in private things that I know in the
law that I was involved in, including one that was applied
yesterday to save a human life that came from a law that was
established by Executive Order in 1979. If it weren't on the
books gathering dust, we couldn't have revived it. And I got to
say, my advice to you all is do not repeal it, keep it in the
tool bag, and let Russia properly be liberated.
Mr. Delahunt. Graduated.
Mr. Talisman. No, I am saying liberated first as a
psychiatric state of mind; and secondly, by term of the art
``be graduated,'' and replace graduation for repeal.
I had this talk before the late great chairman--Congressman
Lantos, for whom I have the highest regard and knew for 40
years, and it was after he made the statement you referred to.
And he said to me personally, I understand now; I will temper
my language, is what he said to me. Because, you know, part of
the cultural effects of the Cold War were use of language, and
the kind of language we use sometimes--I don't know about you,
but I know when I was writing speeches for Mr. Vanik, both of
us wanted to try to find a technique to put things that were
coming out of our mouth back in before they were recognized.
Mr. Delahunt. No one on this panel has ever had that
Mr. Talisman. I know. I should have premised that.
The fact is that I have also learned a personal lesson,
because I felt I had a price on my head among those with whom I
had contact in the Soviet Union. It was a death-dealing kind of
thing for me because my family came from there, and my great
grandfather was the Grand Rabbi of Russia. And we sort of knew
when he left in 1903--he told me personally, he lived a long
life--he said to me, don't follow me in my profession; go out
and work in the precincts to help the democracy work. Because
when he came here, he kissed the ground because he voted within
a month after arriving. We had good precinct captains
Mr. Delahunt. I don't want to ask if he was legal or
Mr. Talisman. Did it matter? Where do you come from?
Mr. Delahunt. I am an Irish American, Mr. Talisman. I know
Mr. Talisman. Anyway, I had the most amazing thing happen
to me personally. I did an exhibition called Scrolls from the
Dead Sea, the real ones that had been hidden for years, and it
opened at the Madison Building at the Library of Congress. And
I always had a habit of all the 25 major exhibits I have done
here to invite the embassies, because they never get invited to
things like that, the whole embassy. Even the people who were
driving cars, everybody, their families. I would have a
dedicated evening. And I asked the Russian Ambassador, who had
been trying to see me lots. And I reversed the tables, and they
came. And within a month I had a telephone call.
Now, instinctively I did not accept the invitation he gave
to go within the compound on Wisconsin Avenue. I couldn't do
that yet. But we did have lunch, and he asked me the most
astonishing thing. And this was when things were pretty tough
after freedom came in Russia. He said, you know, we have a
problem with America. And I said, here we go again. The problem
was different, and some of you know this from your talks and
your visits. They have always felt like the stepchildren of
World War II even though their losses were enormous. And Stalin
essentially stopped communism to get everybody in the war after
all the screw-ups. He said, we want you to go to Russia. We
will give you the keys to every case you want to and every
storage place you want to open. We need the story told of the
1,184 days of the Russian involvement in World War II. Because
as Eisenhower himself says on film, and this was the
Ambassador, we did not win the war at D-Day with 5 million
Russians on the eastern front and our blood all over the place.
They were there.
And I did it. I was there for 18 months in every nook and
cranny of their storage with the most amazing artifacts that
were real, including the hand notations of Hitler and of Stalin
on all those treaties that we talked about, with the treaties,
their own copies, everything. And every morning at 10 o'clock
in the morning for 10 days at the Reagan Building--this was the
first exhibit there--I was on national television, channel 1,
across Russia taking a 1-hour tour for the Russian nation for
all 11 time zones. What it meant to the Russian people was
absolutely remarkable, and it shows what cultural cooperation,
and it meant that to the success of cultural ministers.
The one suggestion that comes out that comes from the
little repartee you just had is that while the Chabad treasures
of documents which are so vital to the community are really
important, they are only important within the context of the
fact that Russia took everything it wanted from--as booty of
war from the entry into Germany. That meant it took a lot of
Nazi stolen art belonging to the Jewish community leadership.
It is enormous, and they all know it. And we have a State
Department conference which I cochaired, a huge conference, and
subsequent conferences where Russia has actually codified all
that was taken, and they say it is fine, but it is ours. Well,
these are the--this is a giant example of what needs to be
worked on in a normal, in regular order, as is said in this
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Mr. Talisman.
Mr. Talisman. And that is it.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Talisman follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you. I appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF MR. DAVID SATTER, SENIOR FELLOW, HUDSON INSTITUTE
Mr. Satter. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the
The future of the Jackson-Vanik amendment has now become an
important issue in United States-Russian relations. The reason
is that the United States, having announced a reset in United
States-Russian relations, cancelled an antimissile system in
Eastern Europe and ignored Russian human rights abuses, all
with little positive result, and is running out of ways to show
Those who support rescinding the amendment point out that
Russia has been in compliance with its provisions for the last
16 years. They argue it makes no sense to retain a measure that
has achieved its purpose and only serves to embitter bilateral
relations. Unfortunately, however, we are in danger of being
too literal. It is true that Russia now allows free emigration,
but the Jackson-Vanik amendment was never based on an
unbreakable link between trade and emigration. Opponents of the
amendment correctly argued at the time that trade has nothing
to do with emigration. The purpose of the amendment was to use
the economic power of the United States to compel the Soviet
Union to respect human rights. In this respect it is far from
obsolete when applied to Russia today.
By any measure Russia is more liberal than the Soviet
Union, but it is also totally lawless. And the absence of
secure rights is not an accident; it exists because it is
necessary to assure the power of a kleptocratic elite which
puts its interests ahead of those of the nation. This creates a
parallel with what existed under the Soviet Union. Like the
Soviet authorities, the present Russian leaders use a supposed
foreign menace to divert the attention of the population from
their rightless situation. The target of choice is not Iran or
North Korea, countries which could pose a real threat to
Russia, but rather the United States.
The Jackson-Vanik amendment in and of itself cannot have a
decisive impact on United States-Russian relations, but in
deciding whether to rescind it, it is important to remember
that good relations with Russia are not an end in themselves.
The late Andre Sakharov pointed out that there is a direct
connection between the Soviet Union's internal repression and
its external expansionism. In Russia today massive corruption
and lawlessness give rise to policies that frustrate U.S.
objectives as a matter of proactive self-defense. The object of
American policy should be to seek to change this fundamental
The Jackson-Vanik amendment should not be eliminated to
bury the Cold War or reinvigorate the dubious reset. It can be
rescinded, but this should be done only in response to examples
of clear progress in democratic governance, capable of limiting
the scope of arbitrary power in Russia and improving the lot of
The following are examples of areas in which improvements
could legitimately be tied to the elimination of Jackson-Vanik.
First of all, the legal system. In the opinion of Russians, the
legal system is prejudiced, inefficient, corrupt and ready to
defend whoever can pay for it. A Supreme Court judge Tamara
Morshchakova argued that judicial independence in Russia is
nonexistent, stating that any official can dictate any decision
in any case. A good example is the situation of Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, a Putin opponent who now faces his second trial,
this time accused of stealing virtually the entire production
of the Yukos Oil Company. If convicted, and it is virtually a
foregone conclusion that he will be, he could spend the rest of
his life in prison. He was convicted in 2005 of failing to pay
taxes on Yukos profits. At that time no one suggested that the
oil on which those taxes were levied had been embezzled.
Another sign of the state of the rule of law in Russia is
that Russians file more complaints in the European Court than
people from any of the 46 countries that make up the Council of
Europe. Most of the thousands of complaints are never heard,
but of the small number that have been, almost all have gone
Perhaps more important is the question of selective terror.
There is no mass repression in Russia, but journalists and
human rights activists risk their lives if their reporting
threatens powerful interests. At least 17 journalists have been
murdered in Russia since 2000. In not a single case has the
person who ordered the killing been found. In cases such as
those of Anna Politkovskaya and the American Paul Klebnikov,
where underlings had been charged only to be acquitted under
puzzling circumstances, the alleged participants have appeared
to have a maze of links to the security services. Natalya
Estimirova, a single mother who was virtually the only source
of information on torture, abduction and murders carried out by
the security services in Chechnya, was herself abducted in
Grozny and murdered last year. Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for
Hermitage Capital Management who exposed a $230 million tax
fraud carried out by Russian officials, was accused of
corruption himself and jailed. He then died in a prison medical
isolation unit after warning the prison staff that someone was
trying to murder him. Subsequent events indicate that he
accurately foretold his fate.
And finally, anti-American propaganda in the Russian media.
The reset in Russian relations is largely a figment of our
imagination and is something which operates in only one
direction, with us implicitly acknowledging that we have done
something wrong, which, of course, we haven't. Anti-Western
propaganda in the Russian media continues, and it is pervasive,
and it affects the way in which the Russian population views
the United States.
The Russian regime reacts badly to U.S. efforts to support
Russian democracy, but we have an interest in the success of
democratic processes in Russia. Democracy in Russia, the
world's second nuclear power, means stability. At the same
time, undemocratic Russia is unpredictable. In a crisis it is
too easy to mobilize a rightless population against the United
The Jackson-Vanik amendment surely will eventually be
rescinded with regard to Russia, but this should be done in
response to improvements in Russia's internal situation. In the
absence of such improvement, haste in scrapping Jackson-Vanik
is simply not necessary. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Satter follows:]
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Mr. Satter.
Let me direct a question to you, Ambassador Sestanovich.
You just heard the testimony by Mr. Satter. I will tell you
what my problem is. We speak to the rule of law, and we
maintain that this is an abiding principle in our democracy,
and yet we have heard arguments and valid observations about
Russian behavior. But the law, as I understand it, is clear,
and it is clear in the sense that its rationale is predicated
on what I consider to be a human right, the right to travel,
the right to emigrate. I have been advocating, by the way, for
Americans' right to travel to Cuba. I don't like the fact that
we have a travel police here in the United States called OFAC
where grandmothers are fined because they took a bicycle tour
So I am there on this particular fundamental right, this
value, but what I am hearing is we need to get something. You
know, we can give it when we see improvements in democratic
governance in Russia.
What I would submit, and I would ask you, Ambassador, and
everyone else can comment on it, in the eyes of Americans are
we eroding the principle of rule of law, respect for the law,
when we say this was about the right to travel and emigration,
but now it is about a lot of other things, too, when the
overwhelming consensus of scholarly analysis of Jackson-Vanik
as drafted by Mr. Talisman and Representative Vanik was to
ensure that it would end restrictions on emigration? Now we are
taking that and we are using it not as a scalpel, but, boy, we
have got it, and we are going to use it, and we don't give a
damn about the rule of law. Is that the message that we are
Ambassador Sestanovich. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If you look at the language of Jackson-Vanik, it actually
says in the very first sentence that its purpose is to assure
the continued dedication of the United States to fundamental
human rights. It focused on emigration, and there were many
historical reasons for that. Over time the law became a symbol
of what it announced in its very first sentence, which is a
commitment to fundamental human rights. But I agree with you,
the connection that it established and the condition that it
Mr. Delahunt. If I can interrupt. If one read the
legislative history and reviewed the Congressional Record in
terms of the debate in committee, on the floor, both in the
House and the Senate, I dare say it was exclusively limited to
the plight of Soviet Jewry.
Ambassador Sestanovich. Right. That is a correct, I think,
description of the legislative history, although, I will be
honest with you, I haven't read it.
I would answer you slightly differently. If I thought, and
if any member of the panel here thought, that you could solve
the problem of the lawlessness of the Russian system by keeping
Jackson-Vanik on the books or by trying to pursue some kind of
deal, I think we would all be in favor of it. My problem with
trying to solve all of these problems of Russia's internal
evolution is not that Jackson and Vanik didn't want to solve
them, it is that you can't do it. And we need to retain a
policy that focuses on the importance of Russia's internal
evolution for reasons that I think most people here would
probably agree with. That kind of evolution is important in the
United States, but you can't do it through Jackson-Vanik. That
leverage just isn't there.
Whether it stays on the books or not, we are not going to
be able to bring about the kind of change that we would like.
That is why in my remarks, Mr. Chairman, I emphasize the
importance of having--of coming up with a new policy, a
modernized policy, that addresses some of those concerns.
Mr. Delahunt. Before I go to Mr. Talisman, I noted in your
prepared statement that you quoted Natan Sharansky, saying that
this great tool, which is Jackson-Vanik, for the advancement of
human rights has become a weapon of the U.S. agricultural lot.
You know, I think that is a very insightful remark. And I think
to introduce the commercial interest, and I am not naive, into
this issue in some ways does a disservice to the legacy of
Jackson-Vanik because it was about human rights.
Mr. Talisman. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
The legislative history as we sort of lived it day by day
was emigration, it was not only Soviet Jewry. We met with all
faiths in basements in the middle of the night, and some of the
members, including Lou Stokes, got arrested for it.
Mr. Delahunt. Right. And I don't mean to focus specifically
Mr. Talisman. No, no, I am not blaming, but I want the
record to show that that was the focus, and not poultry. That
is the point. It denigrates the elevation here.
Mr. Delahunt. Exactly. And that was the point I was just
making to Ambassador Sestanovich, that it was about human
rights with a special focus on emigration.
Does anyone else want to take a shot? Mr. Levin and then
Dr. Lozansky, and then I will yield to my colleague from
California, the one to my left, not the one to my right.
Mr. Levin. Mr. Chairman, we, in my organization, over the
years have tried to maintain a clear position of support for
the original intention of the amendment. In fact, over many
years there have been numerous attempts by different Members of
Congress in both parties to expand the scope and definition of
the amendment, and it is something that my organization, my
membership, opposed, because as Ambassador Sestanovich has
said, there are many issues that need to be addressed and
should be addressed in dealing with Russia's overall human
The beauty of Jackson-Vanik is that while it does talk
about the promotion of human rights, it focused on a particular
freedom, a freedom that has been expressed for not just in the
United States, not just in the 21st century, but for thousands
of years, the right of free movement, and we have lost that
focus over the last few years.
And just one other point. When we testified in 2002, we
talked about steps that the Bush administration could take, or
any administration could take, to ensure that this issue
wouldn't be lost and that our other concerns wouldn't be
forgotten. In fact, President Bush wrote a letter to NCSJ
talking about assurances that he had received from his
counterpart. It is something we could add to the record if you
And I don't think whether it is NCSJ or broad-based human
rights groups, if Russia has graduated, that we are going to
forget about these other concerns. We will take care of this, I
know the Congress won't, and then look at--continue to press on
these other concerns.
Mr. Delahunt. I appreciate that. At the same time, you
know, as Mr. Verona points out, I don't want to be in a
position to lose jobs for American workers at a time when we
need them. And it is clear that, as Mr. Verona pointed out--
that, you know, Russia is emerging relatively--you know,
relatively debt free, and that market that was increasing, and
it had been abysmally low, is an opportunity for American
Mr. Lozansky. Well, at least for me Jackson-Vanik was
always about emigration. And I remember when I personally met
Senator Jackson, we discussed about the amendment, and I
thanked him personally. And he also--at least in my mind, he
talked about emigration. And I wonder what would Scoop Jackson
say now if someone would say that some of U.S. Members of
Congress including using this as a chicken-meat approach to
human rights. So many Members of Congress are now on the record
saying that Russia cannot be graduated from Jackson-Vanik until
they buy more American chicken. Well, American chicken is
great, I love it, and I think we should sell it to the
Russians. But linking this to Jackson-Vanik, I think it is not
But also I want to stress that--it is a charity for Russia.
First of all, it will cost American taxpayers nothing, but in
turn it will bring great goodwill from Russian people, and I
think it will highly increase--it is the first step, and so far
we can't really put a long list of achievements. But I can
assure you if we graduated Russia of the Jackson-Vanik
amendment, this list will raise and only increase dramatically.
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you, Doctor.
I am going to go to my colleague, the ranking member Mr.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, let me associate myself with the remarks of
Mr. Sherman. I think that giving back the sacred documents and
books and papers to Chabad would be a great gesture of
goodwill, wouldn't cost anybody anything. And if there is a
message that we can give to people who are listening to the
other government is why not do this? This would be a great
gesture of goodwill.
I associate myself with Mr. Sherman's remarks, although I
do not believe that should hold us up in assessing what
Jackson-Vanik is all about. Let us just note that, first of
all, in our own country is Russia--should Russia be considered
a democratic country that is flawed now, or should it be
considered still a rogue nation, a lawless nation?
A lot of Americans don't like to remember this. I lived in
North Carolina when I was a young boy, and I remember the Ku
Klux Klan in North Carolina even in those days, in the 1950s.
But for at least 70 years we had a terrorist organization that
were murdering people who were trying to organize the right of
a group of our fellow citizens to vote. They were murdering
Black people in order to terrorize them. The judges let them
go. The government didn't enforce the law for 70 years in our
country's history. Now, was our country a democratic country at
that time, or was it a rogue, lawless Nation? No. It was a
flawed democratic country, and we had our flaws. We needed to
work on it.
There are things that Russia now has that are flawed, but
it is essentially a democratic country and should be treated
that way. And if they do, we should be working with the forces
who want to help reform that society, and perhaps maybe as we
needed to reform our judicial system so that the Ku Klux Klan
wasn't running all over the place murdering Blacks, maybe we
need to make sure we work with Russian people to help them make
sure their judiciary system is protected.
Mr. Satter, you made some good points about some of the
flaws that I am talking about. Do you believe that these same
restrictions that you now want to maintain, the Jackson-Vanik
restrictions legally maintain, do you think they should be
applied to China?
Mr. Satter. I hesitate to answer questions about China
because I haven't studied China the way I have studied Russia.
Mr. Rohrabacher. It doesn't take very much study to
understand that there hasn't been any reform in China. You
don't have to spend 2 days in the library to understand that
all of the things you are complaining about with Russia have
not been done in China, yet we have a demonstrably more
positive relationship toward China than we do toward Russia.
Mr. Satter. Well, in general terms I certainly feel that we
should work and put pressure to the extent that we can on the
Chinese leadership to respect human rights, just as we do in
the Soviet Union, just as we should in the case of Russia.
Mr. Rohrabacher. But you don't know if you would impose
Mr. Satter. Simply I don't feel qualified to give such a
Mr. Rohrabacher. To all those people who don't feel
qualified, let me suggest that they go to Google and Google
``Chinese soldier shoots Tibetans at the border,'' and what you
will find is to this day that if Tibetans try to leave Tibet,
Chinese snipers will kill them as they are trying to leave
Tibet. And there is a picture going on right on Google.
The contradiction between the way we are treating China,
which is the world's worst human rights abuser, and Russia,
which has had the most progress in human rights in my lifetime,
is staggering. And no wonder it leads some of the people in
Russia to doubt our sincerity, the good people in Russia, as
well as perhaps the bad people as well.
I would again suggest that we--I will just suggest--thank
you very much for your testimony today.
Mr. Chairman, I think you have a great group of witnesses,
and the points you have made I generally agree on. And I
listened to what you had to say, Mr. Satter.
Mr. Satter. Well, thank you.
Mr. Delahunt. Mr. Sherman.
Mr. Sherman. Thank you.
Dan, I am sure if I go to Google, I will see that picture.
I am also sure if I went to China and I went on Google, I would
not see that picture.
Mr. Rohrabacher. But if you were in Russia, you would see
Mr. Sherman. Ambassador, you put forward an interesting
legislative proposal. I think it is sophisticated except in one
aspect where you talk about a resolution of disapproval. That
is what Congress does when we want to give ourselves the
illusion that we have some control, while depriving ourselves
of all control. A resolution of disapproval, even if it were
passed by both Houses of Congress, would probably be vetoed by
the executive branch and then would be effective only if we
overrid the veto in both Houses of Congress.
I suggest instead that you provide for expedited
consideration of final approval or simply drop the measure
altogether. Expedited approval is when Congress really retains
control, and I would think resolution of disapproval is worse
than nothing because it gives us the illusion.
Much has been said about Tom Lantos. It is testimony to his
status that we are talking about his position. It seems clear
that in February 2007, he was for unconditional removal of
Jackson-Vanik from Russia. But in April--and in my opening
statement I specifically said that it was in April 2007 that he
conditioned that on one very modest condition, and that is that
the Chabad papers, the Schneerson Papers be turned over. And I
believe that that was his consistent position from April 2007
until his death almost a year later.
Jackson-Vanik was about Soviet Jews. Yes, it covered other
groups as well, but it was always interpreted to be Soviet
Jews. The people are free to leave Russia, but their sacred
documents are still held hostage. I should point out that
Lubavitch, the town where the Chabad movement was based, and,
in fact, it is the Lubavitch rabbi that created these papers,
is in the Smolensk region of Russia. And we turned over in
2002, coincidentally perhaps, the Smolensk archives that came
into our possession during World War II. And it is regrettable
that Soviet Russian leaders at that time, having obtained the
archives that they had asked for, did not return to the
rightful owner the rabbi's papers.
Mr. Levin, the archives, half of the papers I am talking
about, were papers that Stalin allowed to be taken out of the
Soviet Union, or at least--I don't know if he was, I doubt he
was personally involved--but a government under his control.
And yet now the current Government of Russia refuses to allow
these documents to leave. Why? Any insight into the Russian
position other than, well, there are some Jews in the United
States that want these papers, therefore they will not be
Mr. Levin. Mr. Sherman, I can't speak for the Russian
Federation, nor will I try, but I think----
Mr. Sherman. Can you mention any advantage or a benefit
that Russia obtains by holding these papers?
Mr. Levin. No, I can't.
Mr. Sherman. Are these a great tourist attraction? Are they
treated as important? Are thousands of Russians lining up each
day to see these the way that thousands of Americans line up to
see the Liberty Bell?
Mr. Levin. You should know that for the last 20 years on
and off, but mostly on, NCSJ has worked with the Chabad
leadership to try to move this issue forward. And we have been
on record urging the Russian Government to return the Library
or to work out some sort of arrangement that satisfies both
Chabad and the government.
It should also be noted that there is some controversy
between the Chabad community themselves about where the Library
should reside. I would leave that up to Chabad to deal with.
But make no mistake that our position is very clear, this
collection should be in the hands of the rightful owners of the
Chabad community. And we continue to--we will continue to raise
this issue at every opportunity. I don't know, and----
Mr. Sherman. There are only 6 minutes left, so I will
simply conclude with a comment on Mr. Satter's comments. And
that is that I think if Jackson-Vanik is leveraged, it should
be only something--we should look to something commensurate and
relevant, and I am not sure that in return for Jackson-Vanik
being removed, that the people who dominate Russia are likely
to take actions that actually imperil their continued governing
of the state, and we might want to look for something a little
smaller and more relevant to the original first purposes of
With that, I will yield back.
Mr. Delahunt. I thank the gentleman.
And let me recognize Mr. Scott of Georgia.
Mr. Scott. Thank you very much.
One of the reasons why I find this particular hearing so
vitally important, within about 4 weeks I have to go give a
paper on the future of Russia, United States, a new
partnership. The interesting thing, I am going over to the
Soviet Union to get this paper in Latvia. And our areas of
concern are really in the new partnership, how we can work
together to keep nuclear weapons and weapons of mass
destruction out of the hands of terrorists, the Iran situation,
missile defense, energy security. There is such a plethora of
things we have got to work on.
So the question is if this Jackson-Vanik treaty comes up--
because this is NATO, and we are going to have a parliamentary
assembly and have meetings, I want to hear from you all,
because I have been fascinated with each of your presentations,
but I want to be clear in what each of you are saying.
So if each of you could just very briefly tell me, in the
event it is brought up, which it will be brought up in the
discussion, the removal of, or should we say the graduation of,
Jackson-Vanik, what do we gain by having it repealed or
graduated in terms of the future of Russia-United States
relations, and what do we gain if we don't repeal it? In other
words, back to my first point, to be or not to be, to do or not
to do, where is the benefit for the United States either way as
we move to establish a new partnership and the advice you can
give me to present this paper?
Mr. Delahunt. We have 3 minutes, so we are going to ask
each of the panelists to respond very quickly.
Mr. Verona. I think we, one, uphold our own legal
traditions. I think when we have a law on the books that is no
longer applicable, we remove it, or we remove applicability to
a single country. I think also if we pass other legislation
affecting other countries, other circumstances, attempting to
use a form of inducement, if we don't show that we are willing
to rescind the law or to graduate a country from the effect of
the law when they comply, eventually it erodes any credibility
that a future compulsive action could have.
Mr. Delahunt. Mr. Levin?
Mr. Levin. Mr. Scott, we demonstrate that we fulfill the
commitments and the intent of the law, and we demonstrate that
when hundreds of thousands of people are able to move freely
from a place that they once were not. Then it is time to
recognize that movement and graduate.
Mr. Delahunt. Ambassador?
Ambassador Sestanovich. Congressman, your first step in
speaking to a Latvian audience will be not to call it the
``Soviet Union.'' You want to say ``former Soviet Union.''
There is even a question----
Mr. Scott. Thank you for that correction. I appreciate it.
I will do that.
Ambassador Sestanovich. The question that will be on the
minds of people in your audience is in repealing or graduating
Russia from Jackson-Vanik, are we suggesting that we don't care
about things that we used to care about? And not just human
rights, but, for example, the defense of our little allies that
are on the border of Russia. What your audience will want to
hear is that the repeal of Jackson-Vanik is a narrow decision
reflecting the law and the solution of a problem that once
bothered us, that once limited the rights of Latvians, but that
it doesn't mean that the United States is suckered in
evaluating and defending its own vital interests.
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you.
Mr. Lozansky. I would compare this graduation as removal of
a huge irritating splinter from the wound, from the injury,
which will create tremendous positive momentum for United
States-Russian relations and cooperation on all the issues you
just mentioned. I strongly believe in that, and I think that we
have to do that as soon as possible.
Mr. Delahunt. Thank you.
Mr. Talisman. I think graduation is essential, and I think
the use of repeal is poison. It is absolute poison. Graduation,
Mr. Delahunt. Mr. Satter?
Mr. Satter. Mr. Scott, I think it is a question of
symbolism. Graduation of Russia will not change much, but the
refusal to countenance it is a signal to Russia that, in fact,
we don't accept everything that goes on there; that we have
objections, we reserve the right to make objections; and that
goodwill gestures will be based on their being justified.
Mr. Delahunt. I want to thank this panel. It has been
outstanding. I am going to be looking to some of you to assist
me in drafting legislation, which I intend to file within the
next several weeks, that will deal with the graduation of
Russia from the aegis of the amendment.
Thank you all so much. We are now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:10 p.m., the subcommittees were
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.
Material submitted for the record by the Honorable Brad Sherman, a
Representative in Congress from the State of California, and Chairman,
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade
Material submitted for the record by Mr. Mark B. Levin, Executive
Director, National Conference on Soviet Jewry
Material submitted for the record by the Honorable Bill Delahunt, a
Representative in Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and
Chairman, Subcommittee on Europe