US congressmen from the Democratic Party on Wednesday blocked the Rpublicans’ attempt to withdraw Russia and some republics of Middle Asia and Transcaucasian Region from the Jackson-Vanik amendment. During the discussion, some influential Democratic senators belonging to the Committee on International Relations connected linked the Jackson-Vanik amendment with the issue of US poultry exports to Russia. According to them, the issue has not been completely settled.
Therefore, the Democrats celebrate a victory: they have finally found weak spots in the Bush administration and will now press upon them. As is well known, all previous attempts to organize a new “Iran-gate” failed: the scandal around the one-sided withdrawal of the US from ABM treaty failed, and the case of Enron also ended without having started.
The only hope is for an investigation of the September 11 events, of which the Bush administration turned out to have been aware. However, the results of the investigation cannot be predicted, and Bush could escape from the situation again, while the amendment is more reliable. Here, nothing can be changed, because the visit has already started. However, already in April, Bush called upon the Congress to the prompt the abolition of the amendment, which foresees economic measures against Russia. At that time, the congressmen said the following: “Russia is no longer the US’s enemy, so to leave in the past the relicts of the Cold War, the US President actively calls upon the Congress to withdrawRussian from the amendment.”
The Jackson-Vanik amendment is a serious obstacle for Russia’s WTO membership. It was supposed that the amendment would be abolished already before the summit. However, now, George Bush has nothing to seduce Vladimir Putin with. One thing is clear: the democrats delivered a serious blow to Bush, so he must invent something within the several hours remaining before the visit.
It should be reminded that the Jackson-Vanik amendment was passed by the US Congress in reply to the ban on the free emigration of Jews from the USSR in the 1970s.
Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/23/41594.html