Monday, December 10, 2012

A Partial History of Lost Causes:
Gary Kasparov on the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act

Photo via Tumblr (looks like a shot for LIFE Magazine)

I am reading and absolutely loving A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois. I will write at length about the book... not sure how... but for now, I will just say that in just 100 pages, it has already become my favorite book of the year. 

One of the central characters in the book is Aleksandr Bezetov, a chess prodigy who becomes a political activist, and based on one of my real-life heroes: Garry Kasparov. I am reading this with such great interest, especially in the context of the US Congress just passing the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. Under the bill, the US would withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian officials thought to have been involved with human rights violations. To quote Joe Biden, this is a big fucking deal.

Earlier today, Kasparov issued a big statement of support, called the bill very "pro-Russian" and compared it in significance to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment of 1974:
Six years ago, when asked how to define the Putin regime, and how the pro-democracy opposition movement could be supported from abroad, I had simple advice. “Read the novels of Mario Puzo.” It’s a mafia, not a political system, and power and loyalty are all they understand. If you shake the ability of the “big boss” to protect his minions from justice while they reap their fortunes, the entire power structure will topple. The Magnitsky Act is the biggest step from the West since the Jackson-Vanik Amendment in standing up for the universal values of freedom in Russia and, I hope, not only in Russia.

I am scrambling frantically to read more about Sergei Magnitsky and treasuring the serendipity of finding the Dubois book in my hands just at this particular time. I always worry about not reading fast enough, not getting to the books I want to read just as they are coming out... but then, a book finds its way to me... a little late, a little post-buzz... but it's just perfect perfect PERFECT timing for ME. I think this is one of the most beautiful things one experiences as a reader.

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Thank you so much, Catherine, for giving me the book. I love how as bloggers we get to know each others' tastes so well.

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