ACLU denounces bill to allow seized Russian oligarch assets to fund Ukraine
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this week denounced a bill that would authorize President Biden to seize assets held by Russian oligarchs.
The bipartisan legislation, which took aim at the “corruption of Vladimir Putin’s repressive regime,” was opposed by the ACLU as “unconstitutional.”
“This bill was so unconstitutional that it raised the prospect that a sanctioned Russian national could win in an American court, which likely would have struck down both the statute and the sanction as being unconstitutional,” said ACLU federal policy director Christopher Anders.
Under H.R. 6930, or the “Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act,” the administration would be able to confiscate and sell property valued more than $5 million that belongs to Russian oligarchs found to have supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The funds acquired by the administration would then be used to provide assistance to Ukraine, according to Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who introduced the bill.
“It would be fitting and right to use the wealth that supported Putin’s regime to rebuild the country Putin is destroying,” said Malinowski in a statement. “The Ukrainian people should see the boats, planes, and villas of Putin’s enablers being seized and sold, and they should know that the proceeds will help their country and cause.”
The lawmakers mentioned luxury villas, yachts and airplanes as property that could potentially be confiscated under the legislation. The congressman further stated that “military and humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction and technology to ensure the free flow of information in Ukraine” are resources the asset sales could provide to the people of Ukraine.
The bill, which would be authorized for two years after its initial enactment if passed, was ordered Tuesday to be amended before returning to the House for a second vote.
“Those who have accumulated great wealth and influence under Vladimir Putin and off the backs of the Russian people should not be able to hide their assets in the United States while Putin commits atrocities against the Ukrainian people,” Wilson said, in reference to the legislation. “Putin has chosen mafia rule, and the global community must respond accordingly.”
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