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Condemning Politically Motivated Imprisonment and Calling for Immediate Release of Political Prisoners in Russian Federation

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 3, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, I have said many times that Vladimir Putin is not our friend. Under his command, the Russian Government has invaded Georgia, started a war with Ukraine, assisted Bashar al-Assad's murderous campaign in Syria, and meddled in our elections.

But he is not just a threat to international security. Vladimir Putin is an enemy of democracy. We know this by his brutal actions that he has taken against his own people.

Over the last 20 years, under Putin's control, Moscow has chipped away at the few political freedoms once enjoyed in Russia. Media outlets have been shut down; political parties have been attacked; opposition figures have been assassinated; and activists have been thrown in jail.

This is not the future that so many in Russia had hoped for when the Iron Curtain was lifted. Now, hundreds of political prisoners occupy cells in Russian jails. They aren't there because they are bad people. They aren't there because they are real criminals. They are there because Vladimir Putin is afraid of them. He doesn't want them to challenge his authority. He doesn't want them to have a voice.

Today, we have a chance to provide a voice for the people Putin has tried to silence. This resolution condemns the practice of jailing individuals for political purposes and calls for the release of all political prisoners in Russia. It also urges the administration to impose sanctions on Russian officials who are complicit in human rights abuses.

Once again, I want to thank my good friend, Chairman Engel, for introducing this bill. He has been a great champion for victims of tyranny his entire career. I am grateful for all of his hard work.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this resolution, and I yield back the balance of my time.