As times grow tougher in Russia, the Putin regime is looking for a scapegoat, which it is has found in Russia’s gay community. According to a study this year by Global Financial Integrity, “the Russian economy suffered an outflow of US$782.5 billion between 1994 and 2011.” With capital becoming ever scarcer, Russia is fighting hard to lure businesses from around the world to invest there. But until Russia ends its brutal crackdown on LGBT people — including officially sanctioned kidnapping, torture, and rape of gay youth and severe laws prohibiting any expression of support for LGBT rights — Russia must be challenged, not financially supported.
James R. Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association (ABA), is lending his credibility, and that of his associated organizations — the ABA, Human Rights First, and the World Justice Project — to the effort to entice American investors into investing in the Russian economy. On November 18, 2013, at the offices of Goodwin Procter, a New York City law firm, he will be the keynote speaker of the Russia Forum NY investment seminar, a role from which he has refused to withdraw.
The ABA president’s support for investment in Russia is shocking. As was done to combat South Africa's apartheid, the call to Americans of conscience should be to divest from Russia, not invest. Mr. Silkenat, since you have chosen to remain involved with the forum, you must use your platform to offer a full-throated, unvarnished warning to Russian government officials that their abuse of basic human rights is bad for business.