Diary: Russia to put British whistle-blower on trial… except he’s dead

The Independent

The Russians are defiantly sticking to their plan to have a trial with an empty dock. There will be two accused. One will be absent because he is a British businessman, banned from Russia from 2005. The other cannot be there, because he is dead. The dead man is Sergei Magnitsky, whose case is now an international cause célèbre. While he was working for Hermitage Capital, an investment fund run by the US-born British businessman, William Browder, he gathered evidence that 60 Russian officials had defrauded Russian taxpayers of £147million.

Other members of his legal team fled Russia after receiving threats, but Magnitsky stayed, was arrested in 2008, and died the following year, aged 37, from the ill treatment he had suffered in prison.

Last week, the Tory MP Dominic Raab successfully pushed through the Commons a motion calling for anyone named by Magnitsky or involved in persecuting him to be barred form the UK. He was supported by no fewer than three former foreign secretaries – Malcolm Rifkind, Jack Straw and David Miliband – though not by the present government, which is concerned by the prospect of Russian retaliation.

Before the debate, the Russian ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, wrote to the Speaker, John Bercow, protesting that to blacklist named officials would deny them the basic right of a presumption of innocence until proved guilty.

Since then, the deputy head of the Russian Interior Ministry’s investigations department, Alexander Yagodin, has denied that Magnitsky uncovered any tax fraud by anyone, which completely failed to convince 59 members of the Swedish Parliament who issued a call yesterday for sanctions against Russia. Undeterred, Mr Yagodin says the Russian will go ahead and try Mr Browder – whose grandfather, incidentally, ran the US communist party in the 1930s – and the dead Mr Magnitsky for tax evasion. buy viagra online hairy girl https://zp-pdl.com/fast-and-easy-payday-loans-online.php https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php займы онлайн на карту срочно

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