Celebrities, dissidents pay tribute to Magnitsky

Henry Jackson Society

On Tuesday night, playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, activist Bianca Jagger and legendary dissident Vladimir Bukowski joined Hermitage Capital CEO William Browder in paying tribute to Sergei Magnitsky, the anti-corruption attorney killed in prison three years ago.

The panel gathered to attend a performance of the play “One Hour Eighteen Minutes,” which recounts the final moments of Sergei’s life, after being beaten and left to die in a cell in Moscow’s Butyrka prison. The title of the play refers to the time that prison guards prevented civilian medics from entering his cell to register his death. Written by Russian playwright Elena Gremina, this new production is directed by Noah Birksted-Breen, winner of the Channel 4 Theatre Director’s Award in 2006.

The performance was scheduled to commemorate the three-year anniversary of Sergei’s death on the 16th of November. The anniversary itself saw the passage of the historic Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act in the US House of Representatives. The bill, which would impose sanctions on the individuals implicated in Magnitsky’s imprisonment and death, as well as other Russian individuals credibly suspected of human rights abuses, is expected to pass in the Senate and be signed into law by President Obama before the end of the year.

According to Hermitage Capital:
“Speaking after the performance, Sir Tom Stoppard, who has been involved with human rights issues and with the situation of political dissidents in Central and Eastern Europe for many years, spoke about the lack of shame that is felt by Russian government officials involved in the Magnitsky affair and how there is no sense of responsibility by them for their own actions. He highlighted the impunity being shown by the Russian authorities in relation to the Magnitsky case.

Bianca Jagger, founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and a Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, spoke about the plight of Pussy Riot. She pointed out how it exposed the lack of judicial independence and how politicized the courts in Russia had become. Jagger noted that while the Magnitsky case was far more egregious, it was the case of Pussy Riot that brought the Magnitsky case to a new global audience.

Vladimir Bukowski, a leading member of the dissident movement in the former Soviet Union has been in the UK since the 1970s when after negotiations between the USSR and the USA, he was exchanged for the Chilean political prisoner, Luis Corvalán, who had been imprisoned by Augusto Pinochet. Bukowski was also a former candidate in the 2007 Russian presidential election running against Vladimir Putin. Bukowski outlined his opinions on how modern day Russia is mirroring Soviet times and all the progress that had begun in the 1990s was now in reverse with crackdowns on civil liberties and the media and new laws restricting NGOs.”

The play will run until 1 December 2012 at the New Diorama Theatre 15-16 Triton Street, Regents Place, London NW1 3BF

To book tickets, visit http://newdiorama.tsd-aff.com/tickets/slink.buy/e.225I/london/new-diorama-theatre/one-hour-eighteen-minutes.html
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