WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators introduced a bill that would graduate Russia out of Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions.
The bill, introduced Tuesday by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Montana), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; John Thune (R-S.D.), the senior Republican on the Senate’s International Trade subcommittee; John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee; and John McCain, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, finds Russia "in full compliance with the freedom of emigration requirements" of the law passed at a time when the former Soviet Union was inhibiting Jewish emigration.
Russia wants the 1970s-era restrictions on trade lifted to facilitate its joining the World Trade Organization. The WTO invited Russia to join last November.
The Baucus bill is backed by NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia.
"Russia has satisfied the central requirement of the amendment’s intent: the right to emigrate," NCSJ Chairman Richard Stone said in a statement. "Jews are able to decide to emigrate or to choose to remain in Russia, where they can practice Judaism and participate in Jewish culture without reservation."
A number of human rights groups oppose lifting Jackson-Vanik, and legislation is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives that would sanction officials implicated in human rights abuses.