If you have done business with the Bulgarian companies Eurosadruznie ood or Decart ood so far, you should terminate that cooperation. As of June 2, these two and 62 other companies, including one political party, have been blacklisted by the US Department of the Treasury, along with three tycoon-politicians, as the heads of this corrupt network. Everyone’s property is frozen in the USA, where they are forbidden to do business, and American companies are also forbidden to do business with them.
This is the biggest single blow of the Magnitsky Act so far. It did not have such a big catch since it was passed in the USA in 2012. And perhaps more importantly, the American anti-corruption action based on the Magnitsky Act was carried out against individuals from one member state of the European Union.
Magnitsky Act operates in only a few countries in the world – America, Britain, Canada, the three Baltic states. At the level of the European Union, there are also rules that sanction corrupt human rights violators according to the Magnitsky model. It is in the process of being adopted in several other countries, such as Australia and Romania, and its being prepared in Serbia as well.
Those who oppose it the most say that it is a political hammer, with which the most influential Western countries strike at the countries with which they are in conflict. Even more simply, they consider them an American tool in the fight against Russia and its political and economic influence.
Even if we allow such a propaganda interpretation, otherwise completely wrong, what will we do with it after this last strike on Bulgaria? Member of NATO and the European Union, the security darling of the United States and NATO headquarters in the Black Sea region, one of the most strategically important areas for the Western Allies. Well, nothing, because this decision of the American Ministry of Finance has nothing to do with Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is still an important American ally and friend, and this was repeated by Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs to the Interim Prime Minister of Bulgaria Stefan Yanev, when she told him by phone about the US Treasury sanctions against three rich Bulgarians and their companies. This decision concerns only Bozhkov, Peevski and Zhelyaskov, if those names mean anything to you. All other Bulgarians and all other companies, except their 62, have no reason to worry. US sanctions do not apply to them. And that is the whole essence and the greatest strength of the Magnitsky Act, as a universal model for punishing individuals, and only individuals, for great corruption and grave violations of human rights.
American businessman Bill Browder, the “inventor” of the Magnitsky Act, is considered the number one enemy of the regime in Russia. He deals with that “title”, he often mentions it in public, and since recently he illustrates it with the fact that whenever he travels somewhere, he tries not to let his flight pass through Russian airspace. Will Bill Browder now become the number one enemy of the government in Sofia? Or in India, South Africa, Guatemala and Nicaragua, whose eight nationals came under attack by the British version of the Magnitsky Act in late April? Of course not. Neither Bill Browder, nor the governments of the USA and Great Britain, which are implementing his “invention”, are not the enemies of the mentioned countries, nor of Bulgaria. And they know this well in states whose individuals are on the American or British list of the Magnitsky Act.
This revolutionary legal model is proving to be the absolute most effective means of combating serious corruption at the international level, as well as the grave human rights violations that result from that corruption. The fact that the Magnitsky Act was created as a kind of honor to the young Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died after one year of detention, because he discovered a budget robbery worth 250 million dollars, is just a symbol that connects it to Russia. Its application is universal, global, and this is strongly confirmed by the latest Bulgarian case and, immediately before it, the British sanctions against eight from India, South Africa and Central American countries.
The fact that the government in Moscow is considered a political victim of this law, may speak of the awareness that its large parts, or many individuals, meet the conditions to be under the Magnitsky Act. But the thesis that it is directed against the Russian state is just the usual “defense” of a corrupt system when someone calls it by that name.
If we were to compare the Magnitsky Act with other, applied models of international sanctions so far, perhaps the closest would be a comparison between a horse-drawn carriage and a digital, electric car Tesla. In this part of international relations, Magnitsky is truly a hi-tech legal and political fight against corruption in the 21st century. Its effect is maximal, and the damage to relations between states is negligible. The hand of justice comes to those, with names and surnames, who have sinned, and to no one else. Unlike the previous, traditional, state-to-state sanctions, which usually destroy family business, and do not affect autocratic leaders and oligarchs and thugs who are close to them, because of which they are usually introduced.
The Bulgarian case is, therefore, a major step towards the promotion of this new “vehicle” for the effective protection of human rights and the fight against corruption. And a strong confirmation of the non-national essence of the Magnitsky Act.