Sanction pro-war Russian parties

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Damien Boeselager is a member of the European Parliament. Dmytro Natalukha is a member of the Ukrainian Parliament.

Russia has been targeting residential areas and civilians since the start of the war in Ukraine. Russian armed forces are committing war crimes, resorting to nuclear blackmail and razing critical infrastructure to leave Ukrainians without heat or light as the winter months approach and temperatures drop below zero.

However, the Russian regime that committed these crimes does not exist in a vacuum. It relies on a network of political parties loyal to its control, which aid its corrupt regime. And it’s about time we took notice.

Parties such as President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia are centralized networks of regime functionaries and supporters, spread across the country. In fact, United Russia alone has more than 2 million members, according to state news agency TASS. School principals, university professors and even managers of public utilities are forced to join the party so that they can receive benefits from the regime.

They are the cogs that have allowed Putin’s political regime to function and remain in power: a school principal who coerces teachers – on election commissions – to falsify election results; a factory director who holds meetings and encourages his workers to vote for the “right” candidates; A university rector who spreads regime propaganda or expels students with dissenting views, and it goes on.

And thus Russia’s political parties have played a key role in making the aggression against Ukraine possible.

As he did with Ukraine in 2014, and Georgia in 2008, he stamped out aggression and use of force against Ukraine, sanctioning the illegal annexation of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, And they voted almost unanimously to ratify. The independence of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “Luhansk People’s Republic” – both integral parts of Ukraine under international law.

In addition, United Russia members also include celebrities such as former Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin and singer Yulia Volkova, who, despite their support for the regime, are still not subject to any current sanctions.

United Russia has already opened offices in the occupied territories in Ukraine and begun recruiting for the war – yet, most of their members are at least a little affected by Western sanctions. Meanwhile, previous individual sanctions have mostly involved top officials or influential oligarchs who are not necessarily party members and are less affected by sanctions against the Russian economy because of their wealth and status.

Therefore, it would be prudent to approve of the pro-war parties. And once this decision is made, it can be implemented in a number of ways.

First, Russia has more than 77,500 members of regional parliaments and local councils, most of them representing United Russia or other pro-war parties – not to mention regional governors who are loyal to Putin. Their names are public, and they can easily be added to the ban list. Last week, the European Parliament called for such measures in its resolution announced Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Second, Russian celebrities who claim their loyalty to the regime and support the war on Ukraine are easy to identify from their public comments and social media posts.

United Russia party member and former Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin has not been targeted by Western sanctions despite his support for the regime. Victor Boyko / Getty Images for Nike

Finally, anyone entering the European Union may be required to declare that they are not members of a pro-war political party. Providing false or incorrect information may lead to legal sanctions against violators.

However, in doing so, we must also take safeguards to ensure compliance with human rights law. Before the actual application of any restrictive measures, a grace period should be provided to allow members of parties that do not support the war in Ukraine to officially terminate their membership.

Those who refuse or fail to leave the parties face EU sanctions, such as travel bans and asset freezes. It should also be impossible for them to use the services of Western banks, airlines, lawyers, hotels, financiers and realtors in this matter.

Adding pro-war political parties to the sanctions list would allow a clearer line to be drawn within Russia between the regime’s victims and its active supporters. It would also disrupt the daily routine of the Russian elite, complicating any travel abroad, or their ability to buy real estate there or send their children to Western schools.

With such overwhelming influence over their lives, some may eventually become desensitized to supporting the Kremlin, perpetuating a social contract that is supporting the mass murder of Ukrainians. And He can shake the ruling class. Artists, entrepreneurs, low-ranking officials and employees of state-owned enterprises who have been directly or indirectly supporting the war and are used to receiving benefits from the Kremlin may actually feel the consequences of their actions .

Political parties are the backbone of Putin’s regime. Sanctions against those who support the invasion and genocide in Ukraine could be a game changer when it comes to accountability – and it could finally dispel the illusions of Russia’s elite.