Cox and Lantos: Russia Doesn’t Belong In G8 If It Continues To Trample Democratic Principles

Washington, DC – Congressmen Christopher Cox (R-CA), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Tom Lantos (D-CA), ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, on May 3, 2005 introduced a bi-partisan bill H.Con. Res. 143 urging the suspension of Russia’s Membership in the Group of 8 nations until the country adheres to international norms and standards of democracy.

“Russia has failed to complete a successful transition from communism to free enterprise, and from a Soviet police state to a stable, securely democratic society. Vladimir Putin needs to show that his nation belongs in the same league with the other G-7 members,” said Cox.

“The major industrialized democracies gave Russia a seat at the table after the Cold War’s end, expecting that Russia’s new-found respect for human rights, the rule of law and free expression would persist,” Lantos said. “But just six years later, Moscow has tossed aside this historic opportunity. Russia’s leaders are making a mockery of the G8 by failing to live up to the basic norms of a democratic society, and shifting the blame for their crackdown on basic rights.”

Lantos noted that Russia has continued to court global opinion for its support in the war on terrorism while dodging criticism for its human rights record at every turn, including postponing the verdict in the drawn-out corruption trial of oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky, originally scheduled for last week, until after President Bush’s visit to Moscow next week.

Last week, Cox sent a letter to Putin in response to the Russian President’s widely reported comment that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Said Cox to Putin: “The fledgling democracy which Russia’s friends in the West hope will genuinely take hold, along with a truly free press, were not even dreams when the Communist Politburo ruled. The great catastrophe of the last century in Russia was the Soviet Union itself.”

Cox is the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Lantos is the ranking Democratic member of the House International Relations Committee and is co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Cox and Lantos co-chair the Russia Democracy Caucus.

Cox and Lantos introduced a similar resolution in the 108th Congress (H. Con. Res. 336). The Senate version was introduced by senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) earlier this year.