MPs vote for sanctions on Russians over Magnitsky death

The Week

BRITISH MPs have called on the government to impose sanctions on Russian officials involved in the torture and death of anti-corruption campaigner Sergei Magnitsky. It could prove to be the most serious breakdown in Anglo-Russian relations since the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

Magnitsky, a lawyer who worked in the Moscow offices of the Guernsey-based investment fund Hermitage Capital, died in 2009 following nearly 12 months in prison.

It is alleged he was arrested by Russian officials to silence him after he uncovered a massive fraud. He was then treated brutally in jail, eventually being beaten to death by Russian police.

At yesterday’s Commons debate – which went ahead in spite of a letter of protest from the Russian ambassador in London – Conservative MP Dominic Raab said: “Between 2007 and 2008, while working for Hermitage Capital, [Magnitsky] exposed the biggest tax fraud in Russian history, worth $230 million. His legal team was then subjected to varying forms of intimidation.

“While other lawyers left Russia, fearing for their lives, Magnitsky stayed on to make a stand for the rule of law in Russia and strike a blow against the breathtaking corruption there. That bravery cost him his life.

“Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 on trumped-up charges of tax evasion. In Putin’s Kafkaesque Russian justice system, the very tax investigators that Magnitsky had exposed turned up to arrest him.”

Raab explains that Magnitsky was subjected to ill-treatment and “squalid” conditions in prison. With the one-year deadline approaching when he would have to be released or brought to trial under Russian law, he was sent to hospital suffering pancreatic and bladder problems. But instead of being treated, he was handcuffed to a bed and beaten by police. Doctors found him an hour later, lying dead on the floor.

Raab says that 60 people have been implicated in the persecution of Magnitsky and in the tax fraud that he uncovered. Even the Russian authorities found that Magnitsky had been tortured to death. However, all suspects were cleared by the Russian authorities and some have been promoted and decorated.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the government did not oppose the motion to bring in targeted sanctions and was determined to secure justice for Magnitsky. He stressed that Britain had raised the case with the outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev and found it “deeply troubling” that no one has been held liable for Magnitsky’s death.

The motion, which was unanimously backed by MPs, calls on the government to impose targeted sanctions on all officials involved in Magnitsky’s false arrest and death. It also applies to officials involved in human rights abuses in any other country.

Raab said: “We would be sending a clear message that those responsible for such atrocities should not be able to fly into Britain, buy up property in Knightsbridge or head off down the King’s road for a bit of light Christmas shopping, as if nothing had ever happened.”

Magnitsky, meanwhile, is the subject of Russia’s first ever posthumous prosecution with the authorities intent on proving that it was he and his employer, Hermitage Capital, not Russian officials, who were guilty of tax fraud.

As the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti reported last summer, the authorities’ case is that Hermitage established dummy firms in the Republic of Kalmykia in the late 1990s to trade shares in Russian energy giant Gazprom.

They say that William Browder, the American CEO of Hermitage, conspired with Magnitsky “to embezzle funds in tax evasions schemes”.

Browder, who now lives in London, denies the Russians’ accusations and will not be attending the trial. He told The Week’s correspondent Andrea Vogt: “They are going to have an absurd show trial against a dead man and a foreigner in absentia.”

Browder said that attempts to intimidate him continue. “My main objective is to be as loud as I can possibly be, and this [the MPs’ call for sanctions] is just the beginning of our campaign. The only way we are ever going to get any justice is to tell the whole world.” займ онлайн на карту без отказа займы без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php https://zp-pdl.com payday loan

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