Russia Starts Probe Into Lawyer’s Death

Wall Street Journal

Russian investigators on Monday launched a criminal investigation of two prison officials—one of them a doctor—in the case of the 2009 death of a hedge-fund lawyer who was jailed after alleging officers of Russia’s Interior Ministry took part in a $230 million tax fraud.

Human-rights activists hailed the probe as a possible sign of progress, noting that it was the first time government officials specifically blamed anyone since Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow jail.

More criminal cases are possible, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, the government’s leading investigative organ.

Mr. Magnitsky’s death has badly undermined President Dmitry Medvedev’s promises to clean up Russia’s justice system and put it on a Western footing. Mr. Magnitsky, 37 years old, was held for months in a series of squalid, crowded prison cells, and was repeatedly denied medical care despite his complaints about severe abdominal pain and pancreatitis. He died in Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison after he was chained and beaten by guards, said activists who have investigated the matter.

Prison officials have until recently called Mr. Magnitsky’s death a tragedy, without blaming anyone in particular. Shortly after Mr. Magnitsky’s death, the deputy head of Russia’s prison services said the incident left a “serious stain” on the Russian judicial system and that the prison system was partly to blame.

On Monday, the Investigative Committee said its investigation centers on two former employees of Butyrskaya Prison, where Mr. Magnitsky was confined for several months prior to his death. The prison’s deputy chief, Dmitry Kratov, and the chief doctor, Larisa Litvinova, are both being investigated for negligence of their duties, said the spokesman, Mr. Markin.

Attempts to reach Mr. Kratkov and Ms. Litvinova were unsuccessful Monday. Both left their jobs at the prison after Mr. Magnitsky’s death. Prison officials declined to comment on Monday.

Although prison officials are the focus of the current investigation, Mr. Magnitsky’s former colleagues blame higher-level officials in Russia’s Interior Ministry for his death, saying they sought to punish him for testifying about a massive tax fraud that enriched police and tax officials.

An Interior Ministry investigator, Col. Oleg Silchenko, issued the orders to have Mr. Magnitsky jailed on tax-evasion charges. Valery Borshchev, a prisoners’ rights activist, said Mr. Silchenko repeatedly denied Mr. Magnitsky medical care.

Mr. Silchenko has declined to be interviewed. Russia’s Interior Ministry denies Mr. Silchenko was involved in any wrongdoing. Since Mr. Magnisky’s death, he has received two promotions and received an award for outstanding service in the Interior Ministry.

Rights activists said they hoped the investigation announced on Monday will lead to higher-level prosecutions in Russia’s Interior Ministry.

“Now that some people have been named in the investigation, I don’t think they will be silent,” said Mr. Borshchev, who investigated the matter and contributed to a report on the case that was presented to Mr. Medvedev this month. “They will tell who was behind this.” hairy woman unshaven girl https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php займ срочно без отказов и проверок

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