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Lead­ing mem­bers of the Rus­sian po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion are urg­ing Congress to repeal a Cold War-era trade amend­ment they say is help­ing Pres­i­dent-elect Vladimir Putin and un­der­min­ing demo­cratic re­form.

In an open let­ter pub­lished in Moscow, the seven op­po­si­tion lead­ers said the 1974 Jack­son-vanik amend­ment also hurts Rus­sia’s abil­ity to com­pete in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets and in­creases the coun­try’s reliance on oil and other fos­sil fu­els con­trolled by Mr. Putin and his cronies.

“Some politi­cians in the United States ar­gue that the re­moval of Rus­sia from Jack­son-vanik would help no one but the cur­rent Rus­sian un­demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal regime. That as­sump­tion is flat wrong,” they said.

“At the end of the day, those who de­fend the ar­gu­ment that Jack­sonVanik’s pro­vi­sions should still ap­ply to Rus­sia in or­der to pun­ish Putin’s anti-demo­cratic regime only darken Rus­sia’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture, ham­per its eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and frus­trate its demo­cratic as­pi­ra­tions.”

The U.S. trade bar­rier was es­tab­lished to pun­ish the Soviet Union for re­fus­ing to al­low Jewish cit­i­zens to im­mi­grate.

The let­ter was signed by: Sergey Alek­sashenko, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov of the Peo­ple’s Free­dom Party; Alexan­der Lebe­dev, an in­de­pen­dent businessman and politi­cian; Vladimir Milov, leader of the Demo­cratic Choice move­ment; Alexey Navalny, a lawyer and civic ac­tivist; and Ilya Pono­marev of the party A Just Rus­sia.

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