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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senators Tell Bush to Talk Tough in Slovakia

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush should be tough with President Vladimir Putin when they meet Thursday to put an end to "Russia's recent and dramatic backsliding with regard to democracy and the rule of law," Senate leaders of Bush's Republican Party said.

In a policy paper, the Senate Republican Policy Committee said Bush should inform Putin that Soviet-era trade restrictions will remain in force until Putin reinvigorates Russia's democratic movement, leaves his newly independent neighbors alone and honors his international security obligations.

The paper also said Congress should make clear that failure by Putin to turn around his movement away from democratic ideals could cost him membership in international organizations such as the Group of Eight.

"It should be the policy of the United States to ensure that Russia's leaders know that the mistreatment of both their citizens and their neighbors will neither be tolerated nor rewarded," said the paper, released late Thursday.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment to the 1974 Trade Act established sanctions to force communist-led countries, especially the Soviet Union, to allow Jewish emigration. The restrictions became a lever to improve general human rights and now cover Russia as successor to the Soviet Union. Putin has campaigned to have them lifted, and Bush has asked Congress in every year since 2001 to "graduate" Russia.

The paper said Jackson-Vanik is high on the agendas of growing numbers of Democrats and Republicans in Congress. "Many view Jackson-Vanik as a device to exert some modicum of real political pressure on Moscow to adopt demonstrable, political, economic and legal reforms," said the paper, written for the committee by its policy director for national security and trade, Daniel Fata.

The paper prescribed these actions as precursors to graduating Russia from the restrictions:

• Respect democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law throughout Russia.

• Allow the peoples of the former Soviet nations to freely choose their own destiny.

• Honor its international obligations in European security matters. Russia committed in 1999 to withdraw its troops from former Soviet republics.

 A Russian woman granted political asylum in the United States last month met with State Department officials Friday on behalf of Mikhail Trepashkin, a former FSB officer, who she says is being punished because he knows the truth about devastating 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow.

Alyona Morozova, 28, said she told the U.S. officials Bush should raise the issue Thursday when he meets with Putin.

Morozova said she believes FSB officers were behind the September 1999 terrorist attacks on apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk. She joined a commission investigating the bombings and believed her life was in jeopardy.

In October 2003, Trepashkin, who was Morozova's lawyer, was arrested on a weapons charge that Morozova said was trumped up. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

The State Department would not comment on Morozova's meeting.