WASHINGTON, DC - On Thursday, July 7, 2011, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on the impact that Russia’s track record of human rights abuses should have on future U.S.-Russian relations. The hearing, entitled “Time to Pause the Reset? Defending U.S. Interests in the Face of Russian Aggression,” addressed the impact of a wide range of Russian policies on U.S. interests.
Dr. Lantos Swett focused primarily on the Russian government’s continued human rights abuses and disregard for rule of law, highlighting the most recent “show trial” of political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Lantos Swett gave voice to Khodorkovsky as well as the other victims of an increasingly corrupt and undemocratic system in Russia, asking that The United States Government take into account these human rights abuses when formulating our policies toward Russia.
“We must get away from the notion that we can delink Russia’s actions on human rights and justice from all of our other interests,” Lantos Swett said. “When we delink those values that we hold to be profound, we begin to go off track.”
Lantos Swett was questioned by Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee Ranking Member Enid Faleomavaega about the level of priority that should be given to human rights in dictating U.S. Foreign Policy, especially considering our government’s history of supporting oppressive but U.S.-friendly regimes.
While Lantos Swett acknowledged that human rights cannot be the only factor that drives foreign policy, she pointed out that blind support for regimes that are pro-American or serve American interests is not always the best choice.
“Recent events in the Middle East have shown us that we make a poor choice when we choose the friendly tyrant,” Lantos Swett said.