Dead Before Trial

Russia Profile

Two Deaths in Pretrial Detention Show that Little Has Changed Since the Magnitsky Case.

Andrei Kudoyarov, a former principal of a school in Moscow, was facing 12 years in prison for attempting to solicit bribes, when he died of a massive heart attack in a Moscow pretrial detention center last week. With an eye to the drawn-out investigation and international furor over the earlier death of Firestone Duncan lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, investigators responded quickly by opening an inquiry into the death on Tuesday. Yet when a second prisoner in a Russian pretrial detention center died on the same day, rights activists cried foul, claiming that substandard care in detention centers has led to an “epidemic” of prisoner deaths.

Kudoyarov was arrested in May on charges that he had taken a bribe of 240,000 rubles in exchange for giving a student a spot in the first grade at Moscow School 1308. Other parents came forward with similar claims, some voiced as recently as this week, yet Kudoyarov’s lawyers and many at the school continued to claim he had been set up. It all became moot when he died on Saturday in pretrial detention of a fatal heart attack. An article published in Moskovsky Komsolets claimed he waited 43 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene.

On Tuesday, Russia’s investigative committee announced they would be looking into the matter. Spokesman Vladimir Markin said a case had been opened for negligence and could possibly indict those responsible for the facility where Kudayarov was being held. Yet on the same day, Oleg Golobokov, who was being held on copyright violation charges, passed away after an epileptic seizure. Conflicting reports, including one from an eyewitness, appeared on blogs and local media, with early reports saying that Golobokov had been beaten and was handcuffed when he arrived at the hospital.

Rights activists caught on to the trend quickly. “This is becoming an epidemic. Something needs to be done urgently,” Interfax quoted Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a leading human rights activist, as saying after reports surfaced of Golobokov’s death.

While poor conditions in Russian prisons are nothing new, media attention to the issue since the Magnitsky case has sharpened public scrutiny. Magnitsky, who aided attempts to expose a scam to steal a $230 million refund due to Hermitage Capital on taxes paid by the company, was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow’s infamous Butyrka prison in 2008 after the company was accused of tax fraud. Magnitsky’s fell into poor health in prison as he was denied medical treatment until he agreed to give testimony in the Hermitage case, which he never did. He died in agony in 2009, after 11 months in prison, leaving behind a personal diary and hundreds of complaints detailing his detention and prison abuses.

The scandal gained prominence under the firm’s head, William Browder, whose campaign sparked the U.S. Senate to blacklist up to sixty Russian officials implicated in the Magnitsky case. Yet the true coup came in Russia in July when the Investigative Committee finally admitted that Magnitsky died because he was denied medical care by prison officials.

While care in pretrial centers has always been poor, the Magnitsky case has given each new pretrial death greater resonance, said Alexander Glushenkov, a Moscow-based lawyer. “I don’t think that the situation is necessarily getting better or worse – the care has always been substandard,” he told Russia Profile. “Yet journalists are now paying far more attention – much of the information that wasn’t available before is now being requested and then publicized. Earlier, we would not have learned so much about these cases.”

Glushenkov further noted that conditions in pretrial detention are often far worse even than in prison colonies: “Many try to get through the system as quickly as possible, because the colonies are safer, they’re calmer,” he added. As those in pretrial centers are also still under investigation, they are vulnerable to prison officials who can dole out perks and punishments as incentives. “There are many of these cases in Russia today,” added Glushenkov. “The authorities can take advantage of and abuse these people when they want.”

Some involved in the investigation into Magnitsky’s death said that little had changed as a result of the case, despite the publicity it received. “Clearly, they have not learned a thing,” said Valery Borshchyov, head of the investigation into Magnitsky’s death, reported The Moscow Times. “This situation is exactly the same as with Magnitsky.”

“This is yet another symptom of improperly using the justice system as a weapon and it must be changed,” added Borshchyov, reported the paper. займ срочно без отказов и проверок займ онлайн на карту без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php www.zp-pdl.com hairy women

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