Catherine West MP
Catherine West MP

As Shadow Minister for Europe and the Americas, I responded from the Front Bench to today’s Urgent Question about the potential imposition of sanctions on the Russian Federation following the arrest of Alexei Navalny and others.

Watch my speech here.

Read the transcript below:

“Thank you, Mr Speaker, – and I thank the Right Honourable Member for North Thanet for bringing it to the House today.

My Labour colleagues and I unequivocally condemn the shocking but sadly predictable arrests of Alexei Navalny, his wife, and the many thousands of brave Russians who took to the streets over the weekend to protest his detention.

We welcome the Government’s own condemnation of Mr Navalny’s arrest, and the condemnation by the new administration in the United States.

The brutal police response to these protests are a shocking example of what we can expect from Putin’s regime, and they serve as a further indication of the Russian Government’s scant regard for the rule of law and indifference towards the basic democratic freedoms of the Russian people.

In many of its actions – the relentless crushing of domestic opposition, the attempted murder of Mr Navalny, the occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and the heinous chemical weapons attack on British soil – Russia increasingly resembles an international pariah.

This House is united in its condemnation of these actions. We have supported the diplomatic steps the UK government has taken to put pressure on Vladimir Putin’s regime. We have welcomed the sanctions imposed against individuals responsible for human rights abuses. But we must go further.

The government’s rhetoric on Russia must be matched by decisive action. Warms words will not assist Mr Navalny in his tireless campaign against corruption. Strongly worded tweets from the Foreign Secretary will not bring about an end to the flow of the dark money that props up Putin’s regime into the City of London.

As Alexei Navalny himself has made clear, only the disruption of the corrupt financial networks and flow of dirty money into the UK will put pressure on the Russian government to change course.

But after 15 months, not a single one of the 21 recommendations made in the Russia Report have been fully implemented. No action on foreign agents. No action on golden visas. And the London Laundromat is still very much open for business. The lack of urgency is truly staggering.

We cannot continue turning a blind eye to the threat Russia poses to the democratic rights of the Russian people, to the security of our country and to the integrity of our own democracy.

Some simple and short answers will go a long way to addressing these concerns, so I ask the Minister whether the Government is:

  • Committed to the review and expansion of Magnitsky sanctions to include corruption?
  • Committed to identifying and sanctioning those implicated in the attempted killing of Mr Navalny?
  • Committed to cleaning up the illicit money in UK jurisdictions – including London – identified by the Russia Report and the Panama Papers?
  • And finally – committed to the full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the Russia Report? And within what timeframe?

My Labour colleagues and I will always work in the national interest and support actions to keep the UK safe; the onus is now on the Government to do the same.”



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