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Another appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued in the case of Sergei Magnitsky

The Foundation called on the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs to impose appropriate visa and financial sanctions on Russian officials responsible for death of Sergei Magnitsky. The Foundation already submitted two similar requests, in February and June 2011.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer specialising in tax law who represented the Russian investment fund Hermitage Capital Management. During his work, he unveiled one of the largest corruption scandals in Russia which implicated top-ranking Russian officials. Mr Magnitsky was arrested in November 2008. Law enforcement authorities charged him on the basis of a document which, as many independent observers believe, has been fabricated. Also, Mr Magnitsky was arrested by the same officers whom he named in his testimony as the individuals responsible for orchestrating the fraud. After a year in custody, Sergei Magnitsky died in November 2009.

Two years later, the Hermitage Capital Management group published an in-depth report disclosing many new details of Mr Magnitsky’s death. According to the report, Magnitsky was systematically tortured by prison guards while Russian authorities tried to whitewash the case.

The evidence put together in the report shows that  Sergei Magnitsky repeatedly complained to the pre-trial prison administration about the dreadful conditions in the facility and the lack of access to appropriate health care. The report’s findings contradict the subsequent statements of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs that Mr Magnitsky never complained about his health leaving the authorities unaware of his need for medical assistance. Furthermore, authors of the report allege that after Magnitsky was transferred to the Matrosskaya Tishina detention centre, reportedly to receive medical attention, he was severely beaten by prison guards, which might have been a direct cause of his death. The document contains photographs displaying bruises on Mr Magnitsky’s body.

The report presents evidence of an organised action taken to cover up facts which implicate the authorities in the torturing and death of Sergei Magnitsky. The authors of the report quote numerous high-ranking Russian officials who falsely deny any knowledge of the late lawyer’s health problems and name his death an ordinary accident. Also, the report shows contradictory testimonies on the course of the events preceding Mr Magnitsky’s demise and doubts regarding the cause of death.

According to the HFHR, Sergei Magnitsky’s death cannot be treated as an entirely internal affair of Russia. During the two years following his death, the people responsible for this tragedy haven’t been appropriately punished and some officers involved in the case were even promoted.

Considering the above, the Foundation once again called for imposing appropriate visa and financial sanctions on Russian officials responsible for Mr Magnitsky’s death. Such measures were applied, for instance, by the United States, who at the end of July 2011 imposed sanctions against sixty Russian officials named in the list compiled by the US Senator Cardin.


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